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Full text of "Omni Magazine (June 1994)"

DINOSAUR DRAMA: DID THE BIRDS COME FIRST? 



JlTlTll 




UFO CONSPI 



PART THREE 





onnrui 



EDITOR IN CHIEF & DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONE 

PRESIDENT & C.O.O.: KATHV KEETON 

VP/EDITOR: KEITH FERRELL 

EXECUTIVE VRVOFAI- 11 CS jlK-.TCR. F-;.A\K DEVINO 

IV'AKAG.NO IDI l"0-:: CAROLINE DARK 

ART D1REC1 OR: CAT-iFlYN MEZZO 



DEPARTMENTS 








FEATURES 


4 




27 


First Word 




Continuum 
34 

The Birds First? 


By David Brin 

Of elves and aliens 




6 




A Theory 


Forum 

By Keith Ferrell 
8 




to Fit the Facts 


BfeL. ^K/.J| 


By George Olshevsky 
Reexamining 


Arts 


Wk MfMBWi iBn 


the position' that 


By Bill Moseley 
9 




dinosaurs 
gave rise to birds 


Communications 
10 




44 

Is Science Rational? 




By George Zebrowski 


By Kathleen Stein 




The way we 
conduct our sciences 


Medicine 




— _ v 


may tell us as 


By Michelle Kearns 

Exploring 

the deep for the 






much about ourselves 

as it does about 
the world around us. 

54 
Cosmic Conspiracy: 


abatement 
of human ills 






18 








Six Decades 








of Government UFO 


By Linda Marsa 
20 






■ ^'Wi-'iMBP^^BF ■ 


Cover-ups, Part III 

By Dennis Stacy 


Electronic Universe 

By Gregg Keizer 
22 








Revolution may not 

have been the 
only thing in the air 


Virtual Realities 






in the Sixties. 

58 

Fiction: Bloodletting 


By Tom Dworetzky 
24 






Earth 

By Steve Nadis 
94 






By Kate Wilhelm 

70 

Interview: 


Games 


This issue of Omn/is dedicated to the memory of our 


Herbert A. Simon 


By Scot Morris 
96 


wonderful senior editor, Murray Cox 


By Doug Stewart 


(1946-1994) who did so much to ensure.that Omni 


Thinking machines 


Last Word 


saw beyond the horizon. Cover 


77 


By Peter Callahan 


art by Tsuneo Sanda. (Additional credits, page 89) 


Antimatter 



FIRST WORD 



EXTRATERRESTRIAL NIGHTMARES: 

Aliens aren't the first creatures to c'apture our dark imagination 

By David Brin 



David Brin 

offers a word 

oi warning 

should E.T.s visit 

out planet: 

"Wise uncles 

maybe 

no better than 

nasty elves. 

We need 

friends, not 

sanctimony." 



J^fcs a frequent "futurist/ 
JlH| space expert" on talk 
m \ shows, I've faced my 
share of calls from believers in 
UFOs. Some are polite, sincere. 
Others get rude when I suggest 
that vague anecdotes aren't 
impressive evidence for such an 
important phenomenon. As a 
participant in SETI (the Search 
for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) 
and author of science-fiction 
novels about "first contact," I 
don't like being called an 
Establishment shill, out to sup- 
press unconventional thought. 

The intense emotion behind 
UFOs intrigued me, but I never 
put it all together until my wife 
saw the cover of a famous book 
about alien abductions. "Huhl" 
she said. "When I picked this up, 
I thought it was about elves!" 

Sure enough, there they were: 
huge enigmatic eyes, big smooth 
heads, long creepy fingers. 1 
recalled fairy tales — not the sani- 
tized, Disney versions— but old 
tales collected by the brothers 
Grimm or Native American leg- 
ends of coyote or folklore of the 
Aranda, Yanomamo, Ibo. Al- 
though many fables are beauti- 
ful, spiritual, elevating, their non- 
human characters often behave 
in strikingly similar ways— capri- 
cious, mysterious, meddlesome. 

It hit me. UFO aliens are 
elves! They fill the same niche as 
faery creatures, flitting at the 
fringes of the firelight. Only now, 
for better or worse, light from our 
civilization covers the planet, so 
faeryland has been pushed to 
outer space. Either something 
deep within us makes humans in 
all cultures hallucinate mysteri- 
ous meddlers, or else they've 
been among us for ages— not 
visitors, but longtime neighbors. 
Familiar as the night. 

Magical thinking. It occurred 
to me then that UFO cultism is a 
prime example of magical think- 



ing, where what's objectively true 
is less vital than what ought to 
be. You cannot debunk such 
beliefs the way you would a 
flawed technical theory. No 
mountain of data can extinguish 
the enthusiast's glittering hope 
that "next time, E.T. will phone 
me!" Anyway, who wants to 
erase hope? Not readers of this 
magazine, who think themselves 
daring folk— the sort who should 
meet visitors, if they ever come. 
We and UFO fans share a sense 
of wonder at the vast cosmos. 
Only, we have no magical yearn- 
ing for mysteries to remain mys- 
terious. If aliens really are 
swooping down to twirl wheat, 
abduct folks, and stick needles 
in our brains, our natural ques- 
tion is why. Why high-IQ vandals 
instead of honest, open visitors? 

"'UFO defenders plead that 
they are afraid of us, or we're not 
ready for contact. But such 
excuses sound whiny, Like the 
starship captain in the excellent 
but misunderstood movie E.T., 
who abandons a crew mate 
when threatened with nothing 
more than flashlights, these 
aliens sound more like selfish 
cowards than the non-Earthly 
friends we dream of 



Or take the excuse that "we 
have no right to judge. Their 
standards may be different." 
Perhaps. But this is our planet. If 
they're so smart, why not study 
how to be good guests? Don't 
kidnap people. Phone up JPL 
and well roll out the red carpet- 
landing sites, rent-a-cops, visas 
(of both kinds!). The Letterman 
show? You got it. But that's never 
been the way with elves. They 
don't like the light. 

UFO" myths include another 
type of alien — an "elder race" 
with answers to our woes. Today 
millions link the word contact 
with salvation. How ironic. After 
ages clawing our way upward by 
trial and error, through hard work 
by countless men and women, 
humanity seems poised at last to 
choose whether to take one final 
step— becoming civilized folk, 
planet managers, elder siblings 
to the species of our world. Now 
imagine a flying saucer lands 
and some austere, silver-clad 
envoy makes a speech provok- 
ing tizzies of euphoric new-mil- 
lennia resolutions, After a hun- 
dred centuries of lonely struggle 
to grow up, just when we're on 
the verge of dramatic success or 
stunning failure, someone with a 
shiny suit and patronizing man- 
ner pops in, gives a lecture, then 
takes ail the credit? 

Thank heavens good science 
fiction offers countless more 
interesting speculations about 
alien life (if it exists) than conde- 
scending uncles or nasty little 
elves. But suppose those are our 
only choices? 

Well, I don't mean to be a 
poor sport, and 1 hope we are 
gracious and mature hosts, how- 
ever Ill-mannered our guests 
appear to be. 

But until then, 1 remain a big 
fan of the U.S. Air Force. Keep 
watching the skies, guys. Keep 
watching the skies. DO 



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FORunn 



REMEMBERING MURRAY 
By Keith Ferrell 



Senior Editor 

Murray Cox 

brought lo these 

pases a grace, 

wit, Intellect and 



seldom seen in 
the magazine 

world. His contri- 
bution cannot 

be overestimated. 



^^ #^ay 1 tell you a bit 
I I about Murray Cox? 
I %0 iFor more than a 
decade, in various positions and 
roles, most notably as Omni's 
senior editor, Murray brought a 
rare and special brilliance to the 
pages of this magazine. That 
brilliance bore many facets. 
Murray Cox was gentle, con- 
tentious, kind, reflective, vain, 
self-effacing, insightful, acutely 
critical, funny beyond words, 
passionate about social reform, 
joyous in his relationship to the 
English language and the arti- 
cles he helped shape from it, 
deeply engaged with ideas and 
deeply disturbed by the wide- 
spread fear of ideas, energetic, 
deliberate, impulsive, 

Murray possessed one of the 
most adventurous minds I have 
ever encountered. 

Over the past two years 
alone, Murray's lively intel- 
lect carried him and the 
writers he worked with 
through features dealing 
with an amazing range 
" subjects: dinosaurs, 
education reform, par- 
ticle physics, the 
Food and Drug 
Administration, 
complexity 
ind chaos 
theory, an 
E-mail de- 
bate on 
the nature 
of 



imam 




the 



the dangers of 
post-Cold War 
nuclear weap- 
ons prolifera- 
tion, and more. 
In the past few 
months, two 
of the pieces 
Murray edited 
have been 



recognized with major national 
journalism awards. 

Editing became something 
special under Murray's touch. 
The writers who worked with 
Murray could speak volumes 
about the level and degree of 
commitment this man brought to 
their work and to the bargain that 
exists among editors, writers, 
and readers. For Murray, as for 
all of us at Omni, the readers 
come first in that' relationship. 
Among the many things that 
Murray loved about Omni was 
your intelligence, your willing- 
ness to wrestle with difficult sub- 
jects, challenging topics, provoc- 
ative issues. You come to Omni 
because you crave intellectual 
adventure and stimulation. 
Murray helped you find that here. 

This meant— as his writers wili 
tell you — that pieces went 
through a rigorous and often 
exhausting process as Murray 
sought, sentence by sentence, to 
help writers build pieces more 
substantial and more- carefully 
crafted, more thoughtfully 
argued and more thoroughly 
researched,, to force them to be 
good, and then better, and then 
the best, His approach was no 
different for seasoned and well- 
known professional writers than 
for those at the beginnings of 
their careers, although I suspect 
that Murray took a special plea- 
sure in working with new writers. 
Certainly those who received the 
benefits of his instruction will 
carry those lessons with them 
throughout their professional 
lives. Their personal lives as well, 
whoever you were, 

There is no such thing as per- 
fection, as Murray would have 
been the first to tell you, but that 
doesn't mean there's no such 
thing as the quest for perfection. 
Murray pushed; his writers 
responded. Murray edited; the 
readers reaped the rewards. 



As a writer, Murray's brilliance 
equaled and perhaps exceeded 
his editorial skills, although his 
production, at least for publica- 
tion, was at best parsimonious. 
That's probably unfair: Murray 
was as generous on the page as 
he was in every other aspect of 
his life, It was just that he brought 
to his own work the same stand- 
ards he communicated to others. 
He put himself through the same 
unflinching process.' 

This'was not easy, and there 
was a certain amount of pain for 
Murray in writing for publication. 
That the effort was worthwhile 
can be seen on the page. I think 
of a Forum Murray wrote for our 
August 1991 issue and, particu- 
larly, the stunning feature, "Notes 
from the New Land," which 
appeared here last October, 
More than one reader called 
"Notes" the best feature Omni 
ever published. Murray would 
have denied that. But, then, he 
wrote it. He did. 

Writers first, must live, and 
Murray filled his 48 years with 
several centuries' experience. 
Away from the desk, Murray was 
every bit as special and brilliant 
as he was professionally, His cir- 
cle of friends was enormous and 
deep, an extended family as 
diverse as any group you could 
imagine. What they had in com- 
mon was Murray, and their devo- 
tion to him is as much monument 
as any man could wish. Conver- 
sation with Murray fared across 
the range of human learning and 
experience. A meal or a drink 
could become a revelation, a 
celebration. He could be pro- 
fane, but he was never obscene. 
His laughter was infectious, and 
echoes among us still. 

Murray Cox died of AIDS in 
his beloved New York City on 
March 13, 1994. 

We will miss him forever. 

He made us better.DO 



ART 



ALIEN INSPIRATION; 

On the set of Rosweli, the movie 

By Bill Moseley 



Something crashed oui- 
side of Rosweli, New 
Mexico, in July of 1947. 
The U.S. Army would have us 
believe it was nothing more than 
a weaiher balloon. But hundreds 
of eyewitnesses, military men just 
now daring to break their oath 
of silence, claim that what the 
Army discovered, recovered, 
and covered up was a ship from 
another world, complete with 
flight crew— one of whom was 
still alive. 

This mother of all UFO stories 



Strange 

metallic debris 

strewn over 

three quarters 

el a mile at 

a sheep ranch 

near the 

Rosweli Army 

Air Field 

prompts Major 

Marcel, 

Biased by Kyie 

MacLaGhlan, 

to make public his 

suspicion 

of a UFO crash. 




is the subject of the Showtime 
original movie Rosweli, sched- 
uled for a summer 1994 debut. 
Based on the nonfiction book 
UFO Crash at Rosweli by Kevin 
Randle and Donald Schmitt, Ros- 
weli was written by Arthur Kopit, 
produced and directed by Jere- 
my Kagan, and stars Kyle Mac- 
Lachlan (Twin Peaks), Kim Greist 
(Brazil), and Martin Sheen 
(Apocalypse Now). 

The movie begins with a 1977 
reunion of the 509th Bombard- 
ment Group from the Rosweli 
Army Air Force Base, where 
through the use of flashbacks 
(or, as director Kagan calls it, a 
"Rashomonlike" approach), sev- 
eral of the men who participated 
in covering up the crash open up 
to Maj. Jessee Marcel (Mac- 
Lachlan), the former base intelli- 
gence officer now in his seven- 
ties, and a startlingly different 
version of the Army's "weather 
balloon" story emerges. 

As I spent three days poking 
around various sets in Los An- 
geles, it was emphasized to me 
that Rosweli is not a science-fic- 
tion movie per se, but a film 
about relationships, secrets, and 
cover-ups: "The JFK of UFOs," 
as unit publicist Cid Swank put it 
so eloquently. However, if only to 
educate the nonbelievers (and 
titillate those in the know), Kagan 
has spiked the movie with refer- 
ences to such icons of conspira- 
cy as the Majestic 12 (Truman's 
alleged clandestine UFO disin- 
formation group) and Area 51 
(the site where aliens supposed- 
ly have been overseeing the con- 
struction of spacecraft). 

Executive Producer Paul 
Davids, who originally optioned 
the Rosweli book and coopted 
fellow American Film Institute 
alumnus Kagan to the project, 
claimed to me to have seen a 
"domed disk" maneuvering over 
his house near Pasadena, Cali- 



fornia, in the broad daylight of 
February 25, 1987. Interviewed 
on location at the Van Nuys, 
California, airport, in the shadow 
of a B-29 bomber, Davids went 
on to say that what attracted him 
to the Rosweli mystery was the 
fact that many of the UFOs spot- 
ted during that summer of 1947, 
the year the term "flying saucer" 
was coined, matched his sight- 
ing, wobble for wobble. 

Neither MacLachlan nor Kim 
Greist (who plays Marcel's long- 
suffering wife, Vy) had a close 
encounter by the start of produc- 
tion. Both actors were, in fact, 
much more concerned about 
playing characters who age 30 
years in the course of the film — 
thanks to Manlio Rochetti's latex 
makeup magic. 

Downstairs, in a simulation of 
the infamous Blue Room, a 
group of make-believe officers 
and surgeons was preparing to 
shoot the scenes in which the 
Rosweli alien blesses them, dies, 
and is then promptly dissected — 
revealing a chestful of canned 
oysters. The silicone creature, 
courtesy of special-effects mas- 
ter Steve Johnson (who did Uma 
Thurman's thumbs in Even Cow- 
girls Get the Blues), did indeed 
look fetuslike, save for four fin- 
gers and toes instead of five 
(maybe that's where Steve got 
Uma's thumbs) and a lack of visi- 
ble sex organs. 

One theory about the Rosweli 
aliens is that they were actually 
humans from the distant future 
and their spacecraft was in reali- 
ty a time-travel machine. When I 
asked producer llene Kahn if it 
depressed her to think that the 
evolution of homo sapiens might 
include the loss of genitalia, she 
responded, "It would be sad to 
think that we're going from more 
contact to less contact. I would 
hope that we're not going to 
spawn by spores!"DQ 



canjinnunjiCATionjs 



READERS' WRITES: 

Beauty in the eye of a storm, defending science, 

and the length and girth of it all 



i'OB GUCOONE- 

!■ ATI .-:!;■:.,. 

HE dCWDRATION 



Don't Mess with Mother Nature 

Doesn't hurricane "seeding" [Hurri- 
canes: Reaping the Whirlwind, March 
1994] and the technological/scientific 
investigation surrounding ideas like 
this merely reflect yet another example 
of the historically repulsive patriarchal 
pursuit ot science? Hurricanes are in- 
deed "disasters," but what effect do 
they have on the larger sustentation of 
the planetary equilibrium? It seems sci- 
ence continues to embrace the man- 
over-nature mentality, and Omni con- 
tinues to awe-inspiringly cover those top- 
ics. Man has a place on the planet that 
none of us should pretend to compre- 
hend, yet our technologies have 
placed us in a position to alter the larg- 
er network of the planet, and we need 
to do so responsibly. Much heated de- 
bate needs to occur regarding natural 
phenomenon alteration before we blind- ■ 
ly accept its scientific merits. 

Kevin Martin 

Chicago, IL 

AOL: KMART 222 

Your Earth column, "Hurricane Omni," 
March 1994, sent a tremor through my 
soul. I'm a surfer from Virginia Beach, 
and for me, a hurricane is a spark of 
awe, anxiety, and hope. The waves are 
the final culmination of a hurricane, and 
being in one of Mother Nature's most 
awesome spectacles is somehow holy. 
My heart goes out lo those who suf- 
fered losses in hurricanes, but I can't 
help feeling a certain wonder at seeing 
one of the greatest beauties on Earth. 
In my opinion, attempting to control or 
lessen such a storm would be utter fol- 
ly and criminal. As the old saying 
goes, "Don't mess with Mother Nature." 
Carl Ross 
Virginia Beach, VA 

Reader to Reader 

While Claude Pauly [Communications, 
February 1994] reminds us about the 
time when radio waves and bacteria 
were "declared nonexistent," he forgets 
that it was science that eventually discov- 
ered these wonders. Science does not 
claim to be "the defender of absolute 
truth." It claims to have the best, most 
systematic and rigorous method for 



bringing us closer to the truth. If Pauly 
or anyone else has an alternative, prac- 
tical method which has a better record 
of discovery and invention over the 
millennia, let's hear about it— but for 
goodness sake, stop the whining. 

Steve Lob ley 
Sedona, AZ 

Where's the Beef? 

I read with great disinterest yet another 
advancement in DMA research and tam- 
pering with our chromosomes [Contin- 
uum, February 1994], While I've no prob- 
lem with this, I feel it misses the funda- 
mental point on which every American 
male dwells: Where in the DNA is the 
section that controls the size of the pe- 
nis, and why aren't they studying it? 
When most men see a penis larger 
than their own, they feel inferior. (As a 
gay man, I know of what I speak.) I sug- 
gest scientists conquer length and 
girth to provide them with an astound- 
ing amount of funding. 

Ed Stevenson 
Baltimore, MD 

Men Are Bingers, Too 

I was happy to read !he piece "Feed 
Your Head" in the Continuum section 
of the March edition. However, I 
stopped at paragraph 3: "Researchers 
have found that bingers have higher 
opioid levels than do normal women." 
The problem is, my binger friend is a 
man. Eating disorders such as anorexia 
and bulimia have primarily distressed 
women, but binging crosses both sex- 
es. Let's not label our binging men 
with a "woman's disease" by falling 
prey to old stereotypes. 

. Leigh Wirth 
Rockville, MDOd 



■ "■ ■:■■■■.' . ,\ .",■.,''<; 



Got something to say but no time to 
write? Call (900) 285-5483. Your com- 
ments will be recorded and may ap- 
pear in an upcoming issue of Omni. 
The cost for the call is 95 cents per 
minute. You must be age 18 or old- 
er. Touch-tone phones only. Spon- 
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nniruD 



MIND READING AMONG THE MACAQUES: 
How the brain interprets the intentions of others 

By Kathleen Stein . 



Aong with monitoring 
one's inner life, nothing 
is more central to 
human thinking than the repre- 
sentation of minds of others. "We 
engage automatically and effort- 
lessly in building theories about 
the inner states of those around 
us," says neuroscientist Leslie 
Brothers of the UCLA Brain Re- 
search Institute and Sepulveda 
V.A. Medical Center. 

"The complexity of social life 
demands specific and changing 
responses to the world of mates, 
offspring, leaders, rivals, in- 
group bullies, and allies." Here 




Brothers is not referring to 
human social exchange, but 

relationships among macaque 
monkeys. All primates, she says, 
have evolved expert systems for 
decoding the activities and ges- 
tures of their fellows. "You have 
to be able to remember who's 
your friend. If you forgot some- 
one wasn't nice to you, you 
wouldn't survive very long." 

How the brain processes 
social information is a little- 
researched area. But Brothers 
and colleague Brian Ring have 
developed an ingenious method 
for determining the way neural 
circuits generate macaque social 



behavior. The investigators 
videotaped a troupe of outside- 
housed monkeys as they ate, 
groomed, played, copulated, 
and slept. They transferred 
50,400 frames of footage show- 
ing all manner of body views and 
movements — closeups of body 
parts {fur, hands, feet, rear ends, 
eyes, and ears) — onto a comput- 
er-controlled laser disc. They 
showed these elements of social 
activity to individual macaques, 
each of whom had tiny elec- 
trodes implanted into single 
cells — parts of neuron ensem- 
bles — in select brain areas. 

By recording what neurons 
fired during what events, 
Brothers found that images of 
specific gestures or actions acti- 
vated specific neurons. In one 
episode, the observer monkey 
watched a female holding a 
piece of fruit as another circled 
and approached her. A neuron 
fired strongly as the animal 
viewed this prelude to a handout. 
It did not fire at a sequence of 
two monkeys grooming or of one 
circling the other who had no 
fruit. That neuron only responded 
to the representation of the 
other's intent to bid for the fruit. 

Brothers recorded from elec- 
trodes in the amygdala, an area 
central to processing emotions, 
having extensive pathways to 
lower visceral areas, adjacent 
limbic structures, and cortical 
regions. Her data indicate that 
the amygdala is a unifier in a net- 
work for social cognition, a sort 
of Times Square. There, path- 
ways converge from nearby 
areas, such as the superior tem- 
poral sulcus, which may be 
involved in identity (who is doing 
what to whom), and the frontal 
cortex. Others have found 
specifically socially responsive 
neurons in these areas. 

Social events may have privi- 
leged access to both motivation- 



al states and memory coding, 
she says, forging an intimate link 
between emotions, memory, and 
perception. The emotional com- 
ponent must be present for the 
social information to have mean- 
ing. "I don't want to make a gen- 
eral statement about emotion 
and cognition," she laughs, 
"because a lot of people realize 
it may be an artificial division. But 
in the anatomy of social cogni- 
tion, you can make concrete 
statements about it." 

Brothers suggests that para- 
noia — where one is plagued by 
the intentions of others of often 
vague identity — may stem from 
deficits in this social network. In 
autism, too, persons have diffi- 
culty dealing with emotion-laden 
information about others. Autistic 
people don't register the feelings 
that social situations generate. 
And individuals with certain tem- 
poral-lobe damage can identify 
faces but can't link identity with 
the sense of person (a psy- 
chological entity), creating a 
"strangeness" about the familiar 
face, a conviction that the person 
is an impostor. Patients with 
some frontal-lobe lesions don't 
seem to appreciate social rules 
or make the right social judg- 
ments, misreading others' char- 
acters and motivations. 

Recently Brothers teamed 
with UCLA colleagues to study 
patients set for epilepsy surgery 
who have electrodes to pinpoint 
seizures implanted in the same 
areas she's explored in the mon- 
keys. They watch a movie filled 
with emotional images and the 
investigators track neural activity 
during specific scenes. "Now, 
not only do I have a chance to 
see how human neurons are fir- 
ing," says Brothers, a psychia- 
trist by training, "but I can listen 
to people telling me what they're 
feeling at the same time, reflect- 
ing on their experiences."DQ 



nnEDoruE 

DAVY JONES' MEDICINE CHEST: 

Chemists pursue a treasure trove of drugs from the deep 

By Michelle Kearns 



Strange though 

Uiev may 

look, sponges 

like these 

(top right and 

left] use 

some chemical 

defenses 

in their Immune 

systems thai 



Six years ago in the waters 
oft the Bahamas, a con- 
traband scout from the 
coast guard stopped Ken Rine- 
hart and his crew. They came 
away clean: no drugs on board- 
well, at least not the kind the 
coast guard is used to finding. 

Dr. Rinehart's team of chemists 
at the University of Illinois think 
they've got some great drugs. 
They're made by animals, called 
tunicates or "sea squirts," that 
grow in grapelike clusters. One 
species, found by Rinehart in Car- 
ibbean mangrove swamps, pro- 
duces a powerful antitumor agent 
dubbed Ecteinascidia turbinata 
(Et for short). It's 150 times more 
potent than today's most common- 
ly used drug: A mere fraction of 



a nanogram of Et kills tumor 
cells. Signaling its future poten- 
tial, the National Cancer Institute 
recently selected Et for further pre- 
clinical testing in animals. 

And that's just for starters. For 
nearly three decades, U.S. sci- 
entists have collected and stud- 
ied algae, seaweed, sponges, 
and tunicates everywhere from No- 
va Scotia to the Indian Ocean, 
from Australia's Great Barrier 
Reef to the Mediterranean. From 
a handful of researchers in the 
late 1960s, the national marine bio- 
medical effort — funded by the fed- 
eral government's Sea Grant Pro- 
gram and the National Cancer In- 
stitute — has grown to at least 12 
investigating groups with 200 sci- 
entists and students, an assort- 




are similar to 
ours, and 
studying them 
may lead to 
several practical 
medical 
treatments, tram 
antibiotics to 
anticancer agents 
and anti- 
inflammatories. 




ment of organic and inorganic 
chemists, molecular and cellular 
pharmacologists, taxonomists, 
and marine physiologists. They 
have found an array of intriguing 
medicinal compounds: anti- 
cancer agents extracted from 
seafloor bacteria and a mosslike 
ocean animal, antiinflammatory 
compounds from seaweed, anti- 
biotics from sea slugs, and anti- 
HIV chemicals from algae. So far, 
none have made it to pharmacy 
shelves, but experts are hopeful 
that some will in due course. 

The earliest recorded evidence 
of extracting medicinal chemicals 



from marine life dates back to the 
ancient Phoenicians. However it 
was not until the advent of reli- 
able scuba gear in the 1950s and 
more recent advances in genet- 
ic and molecular biology that ma- 
rine pharmacology offered such 
rich potential. There's no question 
that looking to the ocean for cures 
is worth the trouble. It seems the 
sea is chock-full of primitive 
forms of the human immune sys- 
tem. "In the ocean, 1 everybody's 
in- the same bucket of soup," ex- 
plains Robert Jacobs, Ph.D., a 
pharmacologist at the University 
of California at Santa Barbara. "A 
sponge, like other sea life, is at 
the mercy of its environment. It 
has to have a chemical defense 
system to handle enemies and 
prey that float in." 

Scientists track down chemi- 
cals that may be useful in human 
treatment by looking at the way 
sea life responds to dangerous 
invasive substances (such as ven- 
om from a sting or an infectious 
microbe). Jacobs gives the exam- 
ple of manoalide, an antiinflamma- 
tory agent extracted from a 
sponge found in the Souih Pacif- 
ic. Humans and sponges use 
some similar chemical processes 
to protect themselves. Jacobs be- 
lieves manoalide may regulate 
the enzymes "in the sponge that 
destroy intruders, and a similar 
regulator is found in the human im- 
mune system, When an invader 
shows up, both the human and 
the sponge immune systems 
send out chemical signals telling 
defense cells to accumulate. In hu- 
mans, one of the results is swel- 
ling, the body's way of trapping 
an invader to prevent it from 
spreading throughout the system 
before white cells and enzymes 
can destroy it. But the sponge's 
messenger chemicals, such as 
manoalide, do not initiate swell- 
ing and therefore may help in 
the treatment of ulcers, head- 



nnEDiciruE 



aches, arthritis, skin rashes, and 
cancer and could also reduce 
the inflammation associated with 
transplanted organ rejection. So 
impressive is manoalide's activi- 
ty that it spawned a whole new 
class of manufactured drugs: 
Pharmaceutical companies have 
prepared 300 different versions of 
manoalide for clinical trials. 

"Mother Nature is a much bel- 
ter chemist than any of us will 
be," says David Newman at the 
Natural Products Branch of the Na- 
tional Cancer Institute. "She's had 
millions of years to produce ar- 
cane chemical structures," In 
fact, if one inciudes antibiotics, 
then an estimated 55 to 75 per- 
cent of all prescription drugs are 
based on naturally occurring ter- 



People have long 
sought sunk- 
en treasure in the 
sea, but lew 
gold seekers would 
have guessed 



and sea 

squirts living in 

the wrecks 

might prove to be 



valuable in the 
long run. 



survey founded by the National 
Cancer Institute compared ter- 
restrial and marine microorgan- 
isms and found that only 1 to 2 
percent of the soil specimens con- 
tained never-before-seen com- 
pounds. In contrast, 50 percent 
of marine-derived microorgan- 
isms revealed chemical novelties. 
"These things are spectacular," 
says Clardy. "When you see 
them, you almost have to catch 






your breath." He uses x-ray crys- 
tallography to reveal minuscule 
molecules and unravel the blue- 
prints for the latest chemical dis- 
coveries. Then marine extracts, 
like manoalide, can be synthe- 
sized and mass produced. 

Thanks to such research and 
exploration efforts, scuba suits 
and tunicates soon may edge 
out pinstripes and missiles in 
the American economy. "We're 
leaders in the worid," explains 
Jacobs. "Not only because we 
find new drugs, but because we 
develop new methods for design- 
ing drugs and for synthesis, de- 
termining chemical structure and 
understanding how it works in the 
body." Already, all of the six ma- 
jor pharmaceutical companies in 




restrial sources. 

A surprisingly small fraction— 
perhaps only 1 to 2 percent— of 
the chemicals from ocean organ- 
isms are known. "It's obvious 
that we need better drugs," says 
Jon Clardy, Ph.D., a chemist at 
Cornell University, "We need to 
look for greater biodiversity. The 
success rate for finding new 
drugs from terrestrial organisms 
is going down. The ocean is a 
great place to find new things." 
And the pressure's on. Curs- 
stumping diseases like AIDS and 
resurgent tuberculosis bring new 
urgency to ocean exploration. A 




the country have marine divi- 
sions; decades ago, there was on- 
ly one. Other firms are cropping 
up to start sea farms for growing 
mass quantities of disease-fight- 
ing sea organisms. "Marine sci- 
ence is one of the areas in which 
the United States has developed 
the manpower to make progress 
and show great peacetime lead- 
ership," says Jacobs, In this 
sense, plans for some of the 
most promising and profitable de- 
fense strategies of all may be hid- 
den in the ocean's depths — a 
greater treasure than any sunken 
galleon might have carried. DO 



The ultimate game returns! 

TWO WAYS 



/> 




Play Ultima 6 Runes 
of Virtue II on Game B e d X , 




m 



Following the success of trie original Runes of Virtue comes this exciting new game based on the previous Ultima' program- 
ming and technology. You're back in Britannia where the Black Knight has abducted the mayor, Lord Tholden. Choose your 
Ultima character: Shamino wields his axe, lolo the bard fires his long bow, Mariah the mage employs her magical Wand of 
Fireballs, and the armored knight Dupre carries a sword. Battle bats, rats, goblins, trolls, Cyclopes and skeletons. Build up 
your strength, dexterity, intelligence and wisdom as you explore Britannia and free lord Tholden. It's the ultimate challenge 
in the world of Ultima! Get Ultima Runes of Virtue II for Game Boy or Super NES. Better yet, get them both, you so can bring 
Ultima adventure with you wherever you go! ; ^^ ^^ 



FCI& 

Not Just Kid Stuff 



FURJDB 



WHEELING AND DEALING: 
Savvy shoppers are spending I 

By Linda Marsa 



3 for their new cars 



Headlights 

and horsepower 

aren't the 

only new options 

to choose 

from if you are 

buying a 

car. Car brokers 

and no-dicker 

dealers can save 

you lime. 



Mou're ready to replace 
the faithful bucket of 
bolts that you nursed 
through the recession with a 
sleek new set of wheels. But you 
hesitate. Worse even than sticker 
shock is the dread of being hus- 
tled by a fast-talking sharpie in 
the auto showroom. Relax. If you 
haven't bought a car since 
Ronald Reagan was president, 
you're in for a pleasant surprise. 

Battered by intense competi- 
tion, many dealers are trying to 
attract wary consumers by 
adopting polite, low-key sales 
tactics. But no matter how soft 
the sell, the average consumer is 
still at a decisive handicap in 
matching wits with a pro. The 
wisest way to level this lopsided 
playing field is to do some leg- 
work beforehand. Do a little 
reconnoitering and test-drive 
several vehicles so you know the 
exact model and options you 
want before you actually go out 
shopping — and so you don't get 
sweet-talked into costly addi- 
tions. Then find out the dealer's 
invoice price, which is the whole- 
sale cost. Pricing guides such as 
Edmund's New Car Prices or Ed- 
mund's Import Car Prices have 
detailed quotes on dealers' 
costs. Aim to pay 3 to 4 percent 
over cost for cars priced under 
$20,000, 5 to 7 percent over cost 
for higher-priced luxury models. 

Armed with this information, 
skilled hagglers can buy their 
cars the old-fashioned way by 
tramping around from dealership 
to dealership arm-wrestling 
salespeople until they find the 
best deal. Those who want to 
avoid distasteful showdowns, 
however, can visit one of the 
nation's 2,400 no-dicker dealers 
who move merchandise at a firm 
price— typically $1,000 to $3,000 
below the manufacturer's sug- 
gested retail price (MSRP). 
You can do one-stop shop- 



ping or use this price to leverage 
other dealers. "Getting a bottom- 
line price right away," says Doris 
Ehlers, an account director for 
J.D. Power and Associates, an 
automotive -market research tirm, 
"may be more important than 
getting $100 off by running 
around to a million places." 

If you can't stomach any kind 
of confrontation, dial-a-deal car 
shopping services will negotiate 
for you. For a $135 fee, Car- 
Bargains will solicit competitive 
bids from at least five dealers in 
your area who are willing to sell 
the car of your dreams at a mar- 



clubs last year believe they 
saved as much as $1,800 over 
traditional buying methods, 
according to Ehlers. To find local 
brokers, try the Yellow Pages. 

There are some caveats, 
though. Automotive brokers 
might not get you much of a 
break or have the precise model 
you want; participating dealers 
may not be nearby; a few may 
be in cahoots with the dealers: 
and some states, such as Texas, 
outlaw their services. 

Before you drive away in your 
shiny new sedan, there are a few 
other ways to shave costs. First, 




ginal amount above factory 
invoice. Within about two weeks, 
you'll receive a printout in the 
mail containing quote sheets 
from each dealer so you can 
compare bids. Depending on the 
service's connections and the 
popularity of the model, expect 
to pay anywhere from $50 to 
several hundred dollars above 
the invoice. 

You do have to close the deal 
yourself, but don't worry; the 
dealer can't suddenly pull a 
switch and up the price when 
you set foot in the showroom. In 
fact, the half-million Americans 
who used brokers and price 



sell your old klunker yourself. 
You'll get a better price, and talk 
of trade-ins won't muddy up 
new-car price negotiations. Also, 
arrange your own financing; 
shop around so that you don't 
have to negotiate with the deal- 
er's F&l person — who sells insur- 
ance as well as financing. 

Careful preparation — re- 
searching costs, targeting the 
model you want, avoiding unnec- 
essary extras — can save as 
much as $2,000 on a $20,000 
car. So by doing your homework, 
you can escape those nagging 
doubts that someone, some- 
where, got a better deal. DO 



ELECTRONIC 
UfUIVERSE 



STARRY STARRY NIGHTS: 

A look at some of the latest CDs on Mars, the-moon, and the stars 



By Gregg Keizer 



Big things 

Dome in small 

packages, 

i! you take a 

look at 

what's new in 

space CDs. 

Take a cruise to 

the final 

frontier where 

Uie sky is 

really the limit. 




Get a CD drive (or your 
game system before 
you miss out. Multi- 
media titles may have been a 
long time coming, but now 
they're here with a vengeance. 
Several, in fact, are don't-miss 
programs you'll want to add to 
your Omn/esque science and 
science-fiction collections. 

If you stop channel surfing 
long enough to watch sci-fi 
movies with bad lip-syncing, 
plug a SegaCD player into your 
Sega Genesis videogame 
machine; then get Sony Image- 
soft's Ground Zero, Texas. A 
game of aliens in disguise and 
Earth under attack, Ground Zero 
plays like a firepower-filled 
episode of The Invader's, a 
1960s TV series where normal- 
looking Janes and Johns were 
really creatures from outer 
space. You defend a rustic 
Texas town with the help of secu- 
rity cameras, zap aliens from the 
comfort of a control room, and 
rush to eradicate the menace 
before the whole place gets 
nuked. Though strictly a fast- 
reaction shoot-'em-up, Ground 
Zero's movie style — it all plays 
out in grainy video, and the act- 
ing is as good as games get — 
keeps your blood pumping. 

A more sedate and 
cerebral CD is Maris's 
RedShift, a multimedia 
planetarium for the 
Macintosh and Win- 
dows-capable PCs. 
Visually stunning, 
RedShift not only 
shows you the night 
sky (from any spot 
in the solar system 
and at any time 
during a 15-mil- 
lennium spread), 
but it displays 
detailed maps 
of the earth, - 
the moon, and 



Mars. Also, it puts up more than 
700 photographs of astronomi- 
cally interesting sights and takes 
you on 3-D tours of the planets 
and their moons. You control 
RedShift with a series of some- 
times-frustrating panels that 
resemble weird TV remote con- 
trols. (RedShift was created by a 
team of Russian developers, and 
their inexperience in interface 
design shows.) The planetary fly- 
bys are the most impressive, for 
you can circle worlds with a cou- 
ple of clicks, set everything in 
motion, and then sit back and 
watch the sights like an omni- 
present space probe. Dim the 
lights and you'd swear you were 
watching a monitor at JPL. 
Highly recommended to anyone 
with a space-science itch. 

Down on the ground; — the sur- 
face of Mars, that is— Virtual 
Reality Labs' Mars Explorer 
spreads out the Red Planet on 
your PC screen. Although it's 
certainly not an interactive 
extravaganza, the Mars Explorer 
CD is intriguing, and on a system 
with SVGA graphics, remarkably 
detailed. A. cylindrical projection 
of Mars (obtained from originals 
shot by the Viking probes of the 
1970s) awaits a click of the 
mouse. You then see a section of 
the surface in gray, red, or false 
colors. Canyons and craters are 
everywhere, and labels give you 
their names. Unfortunately, the 
two-dimensional view can't pro- 
vide a sense of Mars' varied ter- 
rain, from the incredibly deep 
Valles Marineris to the incredibly 
high Olympus Mons, For that, 
you'll need to turn to Virtual 
Reality Labs' Vistapro 3.0, a PC 
terrain modeler that lets you 
direct pretend sweeps past both 
Earthbound and Martian fea- 
tures. It includes landscapes of 
Olympus Mons, and you can buy 
add-on sets that show you other 
parts of the planet. Make sure 



you have a powerful PC and 
plenty of time, though, for 

Vistapro requires a fast machine 
and makes you work to navigate 
its commands. Both programs 
are best buys only if you're a big 
fan of the fourth planet, 

When you get tired of mess- 
ing around in our solar system, 
you can head to the frontier with 
Outpost, Sierra's first strategy 
simulation. This CD sends you on 
a mission to the stars and puts 
you in" charge of humanity's 
future. Earth's been pulverized 
by a renegade asteroid, and 
what's left of Homo sapiens is 
aboard a starship. You send 
probes to several star systems, 
decide which world to colonize, 
stock the ship with supplies 
ranging.from weather satellites to 
a fusion reactor, and then head 
out. Once you arrive, you begin 
scraping the ground flat for the 
various modules that will com- 
pose your colony, grow food, 
make the air breathable, and, if 
you're really lucky, survive. That 
last one's tough, for the simula- 
tion throws all kinds of nasty sur- 
prises at you. Some planets are 
hot, hot, hot, while others sport 
winds that make something like 
Hurricane Andrew just a stiff 
breeze. To beat it all, you've got 
to contend with rebel colonies 
that want to hog what resources 
there are. In many ways, Outpost 
plays like a supersophisticated 
SimClty, with management skills 
a must and brainpower not far 
behind. This may not be the way 
we end up colonizing space (if 
we ever do), but with some for- 
mer NASA people behind this 
simulation, it's a good bet. 

CD really stands for cool 
dimensions when it comes to 
recent science and science-fic- 
tion titles. If you don't want to be 
stranded in this reality, get a CD 
player for your machine and see 
what's on the other side.00 



VIRTUAL REALITIES 



VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE: 

The Church of the All Net — a virtual house of worship 

By Tom Dworetzky 



With every- 
Hay life 
virlualized, 
are elec- 
tronic gods far 
behind? 
Below, artist 
Petrus 
Wandrey's Ob 
Air pays 
homage to 
Raphael's 



I really don't want to talk about 
this teensy problem some of 
us in 2066 are having in VR. 
For me, it started a few days ago 
when I was saying how some- 
times I feel the weight of the VR 
monkey on my back — and felt an 
actual monkey on my back. 
Metaphors are as real as reality, I 
thought, In cyberspace. 

That's the damned problem 
with VR. I try to shut it off, cut my- 
self off from it so I can figure out 
what is real, and then I can't find 
anything out there that absolutely 
has to be. The abyss comes with 
the turn off from the net. Then I'm 
left with nothingness, wondering 
if I alone exist. My room is silent 
and dark. Out on the streets. it's 
the same. Everything that is hap- 
pening, everyone I could be 
interactive with, is on the -net. All 
the world is restaurants without 
tables and chairs, shops without 
doors or aisles, all nodes on the 




net. Whatever is outside the net 
now, no one can know it. I think 
therefore I am, blah, blah, blah. 
So if I'm the only thing that exists, 
without a reference point outside 
of me, then everything I presume 
real might just be in my imagina- 
tion, a metaphor, a symbol in a 
dream. To shake myself out of 
this metaphysical funk, I need 
something that will talk back. 

My need led me to the 
Church of the Ail Net. Its vaulted 
ceilings and stained glass illumi- 
nate the story of its founding. 
Marconi, Bell, Von Neumann, 
Turing, Shannon. Jobs. Gates, 
Cray: The saints of the net are 
depicted in their moments of leg- 
endary greatness. The gods and 
saints of all religions and philoso- 
phies are there, too: Socrates, 
Confucius, Lao-tzu, Yahweh, 
Christ, Mohammed, Krishna, and 
on and on, down endless gal- 
leries filled with names and 
images I could not recognize, 
whose knowledge I could not 
possibly fathom. Upon this bed- 
rock of all principles, others as 
troubled as I am by the basic 
question of existence have found 
their answers and peace. 

Yet 1 was not comforted. 
Although any window could, at a 
thought, grow animated and play 
an interactive recounting of the 
history of a deity's genius in 
which I could ask questions and 
receive wisdom in any language 
or idiom I chose, this total immer- 
sion in the religious experience 
brought me no sense of peace. I 
needed to pierce this veil. 

So I sought the priest and 
floated into the comfort of -the 
confessional. 

"Oh please show me the cer- 
tainty that I have lost," I begged 
the shimmering form, 

"You wish sensational verifica- 

"Yes." 

"There are risks. You lack the 



bandwidth to process omnis- 
cience and omnipresence, just 
for starters, that are part of God's 
wonder." 

"I can't live in doubt any 
longer." 

The priest guided me into the 
tableau of Adam receiving the 
touch of God. As we crossed the 
gateway, he changed into an 
angel; the flapping of his wings 
beat in time with my pounding 
heart. We floated into a blue sky, 
and I' reached for ihe fingertip 
that filled my vision. Dread, fear, 
joy, peace, all filled me as my 
body expanded and diffused into 
the heavens. I knew. 

Back in my room, curled up 
on the floor, I became dimly 
aware of the monotonous voice 
of my deck: "This is God. Is there 
anyone you'd like to speak with? 
Allah, Krishna, Yahweh, Christ, or 
any other god?" 

"I must know you exist, I feel 
so forsaken," 

"Christ, the Son, is good for 
abandonment. Is He your desire, 
then?" 

"Yes, fine." 

"That will be 95 dollars a 
minute." 

"Ninety-five dollars?" 

"Come, this is the real thing: A 
full-fledged god experience with 
a no-questions 30-day money- 
back guarantee. You owe it to 
yourself. What will some prere- 
corded god-line message do for 
you, considering the metaphysi- 
cal fix you're in? And, I've only 
got a few of these full-baud god 
experiences left before we have 
to move on to the next item — 
Rolexes. That's right, circa 1990: 
they're real collector's items, 
back when people still kept track 
of linear time!" 

Ninety-five dollars is pretty 
steep, but I logged in anyway. 
Faced with this existential bleak- 
ness (or is it virtuality?), I guess 
everyone has to have a god .DO 



EARTH 



SWAMP OF DREAMS: 

The Des Plaines Wetlands Demonstration Project 

By Steve Nadis 



Traveling west on Grand 
Avenue in Waukegan, 
Illinois, the pickup truck 
barrels past the usual array of 
shopping centers, fast-food 
joints, and pavement — acres and 
acres of pavement, "This is what 
we're trying to reverse," says the 
driver, Donald Hey. 

A mile or so away, in the 
sleepy northern Illinois town of 
Wadsworth, Hey and his associ- 
ates are turning back the hands 
of time, attempting to revive a 




Restoring the 

wetlands 

has multiple 

benefits. 

including flood 

control, 

enhancing water 

quality, 

and preserving a 

habitat lor 

plant lite and 

animals 

once laced with the 

possibility 

of extinction in 

Illinois. 



A 




defunct marsh that 
r since the mid 1800s has 
f been drained, settled, 
r farmed, mined, and other- 
vise plundered. The Des 
r Plaines River Wetlands Demon- 
stration Project, managed by 
Wetlands Research of Chicago, 
is one of the nation's premier ex- 
perimental wetlands and per- 
haps the largest system built 



strictly for research purposes. 

The restoration began in 1985 
on the 550-acre site owned by 
the Lake County Fores! Preserve 
District. After scientists complet- 
ed a detailed survey of the area, 
bulldozers reshaped the land to 
exacting specifications. In late 
1989, water from the adjacent 
Des Plaines River was pumped 
in, and then nature took over. 
Native plants gained footholds 
as seeds were transported by 
the wind, river, and waterfowl. 
Beavers and muskrats moved in, 
as did a variety of birds, includ- 
ing two on the state's endan- 
gered species list: the yellow- 
headed blackbird and the least 
bittern. "If you create the habitat, 
they will come," says Hey, 

More than half the nation's 
wetlands have vanished since 
precolonial times. In states like 
Illinois and California, more than 
90 percent of the original wet- 
lands are gone. Of the remaining 
U.S. wetlands, more than 90 per- 
cent lie in inland, -freshwater 
regions, which is why the Des 
Plaines project is so important. 
"We want to find out how to make 
a successful wetland," Hey says. 
"What are the crucial ingredi- 
ents? How long does it take?" 
Ultimately, he and his colleagues 
will draft a design manual that 
others can use to construct 
riverene wetlands. 

Creating or restoring wetlands 
is not a new idea. There have 
been thousands of attempts in 
this country, though the vast 
majority have failed. "They were 
mainly exercises in gardening, 
trying to get certain plants to 
grow," notes Ohio State Univer- 
sity ecologist William Mitsch. 

Unlike typical wetlands-creat- 
ing ventures, the Des Plaines 
project is designed for long-term 
monitoring, offering researchers 
a rare chance to study a wetland 
in the making. "You can't just dig 



a hole, pour water in it, and walk 
away," says botanist Dan Mason, 
the team's assistant director of 
research. "These systems may 
need some maintenance and 
fine-tuning." 

Wetlands fail when they are 
not properly integrated into the 
neighboring landscape. "If you 
take a wetland and surround it 
with a shopping center or an air- 
port, there's no access for ani- 
mals," Hey says; Muskrats, for 
example, clear out vegetation, 
preventing the marshes from get- 
ting choked on cattails. "If you 
took the muskrai out of this envi- 
ronment, we wouldn't have yel- 
low-headed blackbirds or the 
plant diversity you see today," 

The crucial ingredient, howev- 
er, is .water, of which most artifi- 
cial wetlands have too little or too 
much. That's where the Des 
Plaines restoration really stands 
out, with unparalleled control of 
water flowing into and out of the 
ecosystem. "If you get the water 
right, the other things will take 
care of themselves," Hey notes. 
Early results appear to substanti- 
ate that claim. The experimental 
wetlands now trap 80 to 90 per- 
cent of some key pollutants. In 
just a few years, the number of 
waterfowl species visiting the site 
has jumped 400 percent. Beav- 
ers, extinct in Illinois as of 1840, 
have undergone a population ex- 
plosion as well, up to the point of 
being regarded as a nuisance in 
Lake County. 

The biggest surprise, accord- 
ing to Hey, has been "how quick- 
ly you can turn things around. 
Within a couple of years, you can 
have wetlands that perform many 
critical functions," The next step, 
he says, will be to apply the prin- 
ciples learned here throughout 
the United States, "if we got seri- 
ous about wetlands restoration, 
we could change the character 
of this continent. "DO 




conrnnjuunn 

THE ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM: 

Celebrating the quintessential artist of his time. Plus, danger lurks at the beauty 

salon, and the medicinal properties of porcupines 



in blas6 turn-of-the-century Paris, the poet Apollinaire 
once went to a party leading a lobster on a red siik leash. 
It was a good little ploy. But when it carne to party going, 
upstaging fellow artists and drawing attention iike pi- 
geons to bread, Apollinaire was just a piker compared to 
our own P. T, Barnum of the arts, Andy Warhol. 

Andy's renown has far outlasted the 15 minutes of 
fame that he predicted everyone would have in the future. 
In recognition of this success, the Andy Warhol Museum 
opens May 15 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In some ways, 
Warhol is our century's ultimate celebrity: For him, the 
pursuit of celebrity was a bus- 
iness, a profession — and art, an 
obsession. And the Andy Warhol 
Museum is certainly part of his 
pudding's proof. Created only 
seven years after his death, it is 
■not just any museum, but an 
80,000-square-foot eight-story 
monument— the largest museum 
devoted to a single artist. 

Housed in a former industrial 
warehouse (all of Warhol's "Facto- 
ries" were converted industrial 
buildings) on the North Side of 
Pittsburgh, the museum displays 
every aspect of Warhol's work — 
as painter, partygoer, sculptor, so- 
cial anarchist, film director, diarist, 
photographer, music producer, 
and magazine publisher. 

Warhol's famous paintings, in 
all their evocative garshricss. ■■.■vii r:^ c'^c^ayed over six 
floors; Elvis Eleven Times, in a painiing stretching more 
than 30 feet; Double Liz and Silver Liz; Marilyn Three 
Times; orange car crashes, Campbell's Soup cans, pink 
and yellow flowers, purple jumping suicides, self-por- 
traits, Last Suppers, skulls. 

On the top of the building is a kaleidoscope of color 
and light— 55 of Warhol's Shadows in 102 different colors, 
in a skylit installation, There are archives on the third floor 
and research, reading, and educational rooms on lower 
floors. There is an Andy Warhol Theatre and a Film 
Gallery, Scholars can examine everything from his stolen 
Concorde silverware to Andy's "motionless" movies. 

This Museum will certainly help keep the Warhol de- 
bate alive. Andy still seems to inspire either outrage or 
reverence. Was he, for instance, merely a product of his 
culture or a prophet for our times? Though critics may 




Andy has sun 
eye a lot longer 



nc-vc-i *q-~b. ore ITx.g is certain: Warhol had an uncanny 
knack for seeing underneath the surface of our daily lives 
and showing us what was to come. 

He seemed to sense early the coming craze for 
celebrity and the ubiquitous grip of raging consumerism. 
At a time when it still seemed peculiar, violence filled 
Warhol's canvases: car wrecks, suicides, electric chairs, 
atomic explosions — often in brightly colored series — as 
though anything, even horrible mayhem, could be made 
the stuff of mass production and entertainment — which it 
has. His movies too, in retrospect, look like nothing so 
much as the precursors of public- 
access television, home videos, 
and talk shows. And Warhol's In- 
terview Magazine was a herald of 
the "style" and "people" publica- 
tions which currently fill up the 
newsstands. 
' What about the value of the 
artistic legacy? In their time, his 
giant paintings of Coca-Cola bot- 
tles, his Bhllo box sculptures, and 
his celebrity silkscreen portraits 
transformed modern art, His un- 
derground movies and multime- 
dia happenings were the first 
word in controversial chic. Art 
critic Robert Hughs concedes 
that Warhol "opened the door" for 
many artists, mostly of dubious 
ability. But, Hughes scoffs, "even 
a butler could do that." 
Art historian Calvin Tomkins^sees Warhol in a more in- 
triguing light. "The key word," he writes, "is resonance. 
From time to time, an individual appears, often but not 
necessarily an artist, who seems to be in phase with cer- 
tain vibrations — signals not yet receivable by standard 
equipment . , . Always somewhat unearthly, Warhol be- 
came a speechless and rather terrifying oracle. He n|ade 
visible what was happening in some part of us all," 

Where Warhol and his art are concerned, there still 
seems to be neither any certain ground nor any middle 
ground. As even his closest friends say, Warhol was one 
of those truly rare people: The more you knew about him 
and of him, the less certain you became about what he 
was or what he was like. He remains an enigma. Perhaps 
because Andy Warhol was as much a puzzle and a mys- 
tery as is the future, the future will keep coming back to 
Andy, and now, to his museum.— MARION LONG 



ived Hie public 
than 1 5 minutes. 




coRJTiruuunn 




If you listen carefully with this new supersensitive sensor, you c, 
hear larvae eating the precious grain. 



SNAP, CRACKLE, 
POP 

Do you have a bee in your 
bonnet? How about bugs in 
your barley? 

Pest larvae chew their 
way through 10 percent of 
s-.ored grains annually in 
the United States. In tropical 
climates, moist environments 
and storage conditions 
actually incubate the insects. 
driving the spoilage figures 
toward 50 percent. But now 
farmers may have a way 
1o thwart the pesky critters' 
sabotage. Engineers at 
the University of Mississippi 
have invented a small, 
supersensitive sound sensor 
that can detect tiny insect 
larvae lurking inside har- 
vested grains. Composed 
essentially of a sensitive 
microphone in the head of a 
stethoscope, the inexpen- 
s vo sensor can be distrib- 
uted throughout a granary to 
listen and detect an infesta- 
tion early on. 

Two major bug activities 
generate the detectable 
sounds, according to 
researcher Robert Hickling. 
First, the larvae create a 

28 OMNI 



slithering, rubbing noise as 
they prowl around. inside 
the skin of their home-cum- 
smorgasbord, looking for 
something to devour. Then 
comes the "surprisingly 
loud" crunching, gnawing 
sound when they actually 
start to eat. "It sounds like a 
horse in a barn chewing 
away at oats," Hickling says. 

Testing the crunch-o- 
meter on grain, the re- 
searchers found its range to 
be 20 centimeters or so. 
They'd like to achieve a 
range of one to two meters 
to better ferret out the wee- 
vils, potato bugs, and other 
creepy-crawl ies that be- 
devil farmers. At the shorter 
distances, the device has 
proven very effective. In 
trials at a Florida airport, 
where customs officials rou- 
tinely confiscate exotic fruits 
from Guatemala and Peru 
to prevent unlawful entry 
of alien insects, the sensors 
found every last fruit fly 
Each piece of fruit that 
sounded clean contained no 
bugs, while all of the suspi- 
cious-sounding ones did, in 
fact, harbor insect larvae. 

— Pai Jsnc-.vsk! 



DARWIN AND 
NECKING GIRAFFES 

Why does the giraffe have 
a long neck? To feed on 
leaves out of other browsing 
beasts' reach, posited 
Charles Darwin. The answer 
seemed obvious-. But now 
Rob Simmons, a senior con- 
serva: en officer in Namib- 
ia's Wildlife Ministry, has 
come up with an alternate 
explanation: The necks 
are weapons — used by 
males to fight one another 
to win mates. 

When male giraffes com- 
pete for a female, they stand 
side by side and violently 
swing necks and heads at 
each other. Each blow's 
momentum is crucial, espe- 
cially when the animal con- 



centrates the force behind 
its small horns, using them 
to puncture an opponent's 
neck and spinal column. 
By "necking," one giraffe 
can knock out another. 

The male's neck, larger 
and thicker than the fe- 
male's, is better designed 
for these sorts of battles. Its 
size, however, drags the 
male giraffe's maximum 
speed down to 34 miles per 
hour, unusually slow for such 
a long-legged creature. 

Fossil evidence, Sim- 
mons believes, fails to sup- 
port Darwin's hypothesis. 
The largest extinct giraffe, 
Samotherium, had legs 
nearly as long as its present 
us-isccraants but a much 
shorter neck. If growing 
taller to get access to more 



BOTH DIAMOND AND GRAPHITE ARE 

COMPOSED OF ONLY CARBON ATOMS. BUT BECAUSE 

OF DIFFERENT BONDING PATTERNS, 

DIAMOND IS THE HARDEST SUBSTANCE KNOWN AND 

GRAPHITE IS ONE OF THE SOFTEST. 




food played the crucial 
role in giraffe evolution, then 
the animal would have 
evolved longer legs, too. In 
addition, studies reveal 
that the giraffe's neck verte- 
brae have elongated by 130 
percent over vertebrae far- 
ther down the spine. "Only in 
the giraffe," Simmons says, 
"do we see this rather sud- 
den and disproportionate 
growth in neck length and 
the appearance of relatively 
short, stout horns." 

—Ivor Smullen 

PROTEINS BEAT 
VIRUSES— AND 
DISTEMPER 

In the veterinary war against 
canine distemper which 
afflicts animals ranging from 
dogs to foxes to raccoons, 
the Parhelion Corporation in 
Columbus, Ohio, has used 
techniques derived from 
molecular biology to develop 
a safer, more effective 
vaccine from protein rather 
than from the virus itself. 
By shunning the modified 




live viruses usually used to 
fashion'vaccines, the Parhe- 
lion scientists eliminate 
the possibility of causing the 
disease. Instead, they iso- 
late whole viral proteins on 
the cell membranes of in- 
fected cells, where the virus 
is assembled. They use 
those proteins to fashion the 
vaccine, according to Rich- 
ard G. Olsen, a retired virol- 
ogist at Ohio State University 
who founded Parhelion. ■ 
"Because the immune 
system actually attacks in- 



fected cells rather than the 
virus itself, proteins from 
nose eels stimulate a more 
effective response to canine 
distemper," Olsen says. 
Several years ago, Olsen 
pioneered this procedure, 
producing the first feline 
leukemia vaccine from pro- 
teins rather than from the 
ISLkemia virus. 

Canine distemper is a pa- 
rainfluenza akin to measles 
in humans, according to 
Olsen. Outbreaks can dev- 
astate dog kennels and 



commercial wild-animal 
farms alike. Once approved 
by the Department of Agri- 
culture, Parhelion's distem- 
per vaccine could reach 
vets as soon as next year. 

—George Nob be 



A SIZABLE OAK TREE, 
DURING THE GROWING 
SEASON, GIVES 
OFF 28,000 GALLONS 
OF MOISTURE. 



CAMEROON VINE 
TESTED AS AIDS 
TREATMENT 

The leaves of a thick- 
stemmed vine that climbs to 
the canopy of a remote 
rain forest in Cameroon look 
promising as a source of a 
potential treatment for 
AIDS, An alkaloid isolated 
from the leaves is currently 
undergoing tests at the Na- 
tional Cancer Institute's 
drug-development labs. 
No one at NCI is yet 
claiming that the vine 
leaves — tentatively named 



ancistrocladus korupensis 
after the national park in 
which they were found — 
will provide a treatment, but 
the researchers are hope- 
ful because the alkaloid in- 
hibits replication of the 
AIDS virus. 

"It is, at present, in pre- 
clinical development, and 
some limited testing in ani- 
mals is being done to see if 
the concentrations required 
for activity against the virus 
can be attained without it 
being too toxic," says Gor- 
don Cragg, chief of NCI's 
natural- products branch In 



Frederick, Maryland. NCI's 
labs routinely test every- 
thing they canget their 
hands on— -some 20,000 
plant samples from 25 
countries since 1986 — but 
the vine from the Korup Na- 
tional Park has come far- 
ther along in the process 
thar tnrse otl" er olanis from 
Malaysia, Samoa, and Aus- 
tralia, the only ones that 
have shown some activity 
against AIDS so far. 

The vine grows well in 
sandy soil and is fairly com- 
mon in a section of the rain 
forest that borders Nigeria, 



the vine for any medical 
purposes, a rarity in rain- 
forest plant harvesting. The 
vine was discovered by 
British botanists working 
in conjunction with the Mis- 
souri Botanical Garden, 
which collects plant spec - 
mens in Africa for NCI S3 
les'. against both cancer 
and AIDS. Clinical AIDS 
tests, still several years off. 
would be done b^ the Na- 
tional Institute of Allergies 
and Infectious Diseases. 

— George Nobbe 




coruTiojuurm 




ELECTRIC TOMATOES 



Whenacaterpilarleecs. 
a tomato leaf,, the plant 
moves swiftly to protect il 
self, systemati.Gally releas 



"proteinase- ir 
teins that .interfere .with 
the caterpillar's digestion 
throughout the plant, esr. 
cia;!y in :he leaves. But 
how does the mesKaco c 



fxrr, the wended leaf to the 
rest of the plant? 

Mos; sclenf-.sts believed 
the alarm was spread by 
chemical messengers until 
a team of researchers- 
headed by David Wildon— ' 
3 biologist at the University 
Of.EastAnglia in Norwich, 
. England— made a shocking 
discovery. An injured leaf, 
the researchers found, 
sends 

warn neighboring leaves 
of imminent danger, it's a 
"■terribly tiny current" driven 
by an electrical oolemtai 
difference of only 20 milli- 
volts, says Wildon,- who . 
measured the voltage with 
electrodes attached ;o the 
plant's surface. 

"Right now. all we can 
sav is. that there is a correla- 
tion. : Wilcon notes. "It you 
wound the plant, you'll see 



an e eomcal s : cna: accom- 
panied by a biochemical .re- 
sponse." To learn' more 
about :he reacion, Wildon's: ■ 
team oans toinsert elec- 
trodes within the plant/tissue 

hi than on the surface) 
to. determine wh'aft going 
on at the cellular level. 

The; findings .may help 
explain other 'mysteries sur- 
rounding, plants. For exam-' 
pie, many plants' start to 
{lower in springtime, as days 
grow longer, but plants 
some the change in the day 
:onc:h through ther leaves, 
wti to bloom 

atthe.buds. "Thee must 
be a signal from the leaf to. 
the g: owing ports, "Wildon 
says. "So far, no one has 
come up with a convincing 
chemical mechanism. ■ 
Maybe an electrical signal is 
involved."— Steve Nadis 



SALON STROKE 

One of the nicest things 
about going to the hair- 
dresser is that long, relaxing 
shampoo. Well, sorry, but 
a New York neurologist says 
it can actually endanger 
some customers' health. 

Michael I. Weintraub, a 
professor of neurology at 
New York Medical College n 
New York City and chief of 
neurology at Phelps Memor- 
ial Hospital, heard reports 
of two elderly women who 
had experienced strokes af- 
ter beauty-salon shampoos. 
He then surveyed 25 older 
women who had histories of 
iransient.ischernic attacks, 
the ministrokes that some- 
times precede stronger 
strokes. Eighteen of the 
women reported blurred vi- 

30 OMNI 



sions, dizziness, or loss of 
balance — all symptoms of 
ministrokes — while having 
salon shampoos. 

The neck position during 
shampooing causes the 
problem, Weintraub ex- 
plains. Rotating the neck to 
one side can alter the flow 
of blood in the opposite ver- 
tebral artery, a type of blood 
vessel that supplies blood 
to parts of the brain. If the 
neck is rotated for as 
long as eight to ten minutes, 
blood flow is compromised 
and a stroke can result. 

Weintraub's advice for 
ra ; rdressers with elderly 
clients: "Don't hang the head 
backward in the sink," he 
says. "Have clients face the 
sink with their heads flexed 
forward. It's much safer that 
way." — Bill Lawren 



PLANTS STAND 



Thanks to fossilized spores, 
scientists have long known 
that close-to-the-ground, 
mosslike plants flourished 
on Earth hundreds of mil- 
lions of years ago. But when 
did plants start growing sky- 
ward? Scientists at the Uni- 
versity of Wales College 
of Cardiff in Great Britain re- 
cently found fossil evidence 
that the earliest known 
common ancestor of all up- 
right land plants was Cook- 
sonia pertoni, a relative of 
ferns that lived around 420 
to 395 million years ago. 
The coalified fossils, 
found in sandstone sedi- 
ments in Shropshire, Eng- 
land, contain remarkably 
well-preserved cells, ac- 



cording to University of 
Wales paleobotanist Dianne 
Edwards, who headed 
the research. A scan with an 
electron microscope re- 
vealed specialized tubular 
cells, called tracheids, that 
enable land plants to grow 
upright by conducting water 
up their stems. 

What did the earliest up- 
right land plants look like as 
they oegan growing among 
ground-hugging mosses 
and liverworts some 200 mil- 
lion years before dinosaurs 
ruled the planet? 'The 
Cooksonia was only a few 
centimeters high," Edwards 
reveals. "It had smooth 
branching stems with termi- 
nal sporangia — capsules 
containing spores. It was 
quite unlike anything living 
today," — Sherry Baker 




CDRJTiruuunn 



PORCUPINE 
ANTIBIOTICS 

A porcupine's quills certainly 
make for an intimidating 
weapon, particularly to the 
animal's natural enemies. 
But those sharp stalks have 
another, less obvious, prop- 
erty: They're coated with 
antibiotically active chemi- 
cals, according to a New 
York City biology professor. 

Despite their impressive 
armor porcupines are far 
from invulnerable. Besides 
occasionally impaling them- 
selves on their own quills, 
they also break bones and 
suffer internal injuries when 
they fall out of trees, where 
their preferred food dwells. 
They may have evolved their 
in-house antibiotic factories 
as a defense against such 
self-irrlic'ed wounds, specu- 
ates Uidis Roze, a mammal- 
ogist at Queens College in 
New York. 

He found out about quill 
antibiotic properties the 
hard way. While in a tree 
catching a porcupine to be 
radio-collared, Roze took 
a quill in his upper arm that 



burrowed beneath the skin 
and left the arm "paralyzed 
from pain." 

Unable to remove the 
quill, Roze had to wait for it 
to exit by itself, a process 
that took two days. Surpris- 
ingly, the puncture wound 
remained clean. A wood 
splinter traveling the same 
path would almost certainly 
have produced massive 
infection, Roze says. He the- 
orized that the quills must 



UP TO 150 TONS OF 
METEORITE FRAGMENTS 
SLAM INTO THE 
EARTH EVERY YEAR. 



oostoss some antibiotic 
copedies. probably in their 
greasy coating. 

When his team analyzed 
porcupine-quill lipids, they 
found a group of fatty acids 
that can kill six gram-positive 
".ypss cf bacteria — the same 
kind penicillin kills — includ- 
ing Streptococcus faecalis 
and Staphylococcus aureus. 

But don't look for porcu- 




pine ointment on pharmacy 
shelves. Roze tried to inter- 
est one manufacturer in 
n s discovery but was told 
the company had no interest 
because the fatty acids are 
"not exotic and they can't be 



UKcd inerna y," he says. 

—Peggy Noonan 

"Aesthetics is for the 
Artists like Ornithology is 
lor the birds. " 

— Bamett Newman 



MAN, THAT'S A 
COOL VEST 

It'snot the humidity that 
bothers most people with 
multiple sclerosis— it's 
the heat. Theslightest rise 
in body temperature can 
exacerbate fatigue, poor 
coordination, and a host of 
other ailments that often 
make life hell for MS suffer- 
ers. But many of them 
have reason to rejoice: 
Tests indicate that a new 
cooling vest originally 
designed for MAS A astro- 
nauts alleviates symptoms 
in some MS sufferers. 

"The fact that this is like 
a piece of clothing is an 
important step forward," 
says Wallace Tourtellotte. 
chief of neurology service 
at the Veterans Admini- 
stration's Wadsworth Cen- 
ter in Los Angeles and vice- 
chairman of the depart- 
ment of neurology at the 
University of California at 
Los Angeles. He's currently 
studying how the vest af- 
fects the wearer's mobility. 

Donning the vest and 
accompanyfng cap for up 
to an hour can decrease 
an- MS patient's tempera- 
ture by nearly one de- 
gree 1 — providing relief for a 
few hours and allowing 
the patient to pursue activ- 
ities that may have- proved 
too difficult in the past. 

Dubbed the Mark VII by 




its manufacturers, Life 
Support Systems of Moun- 
tain View. Califorrra, the 
■system comes in two ver- 
sions: one for clinic use, 
and a portable model for 
home use that comes with 
the vest and an "umbilical 
cord" attached to a bat- 
tery-operated unit similar 
to a picnic cooler, 

Users have reported no 
side effects. In fact, the 
biggest drawback acpecs 
to be the cost: $1,995 for 
the portable unit and 
$2,995 for the clinic model. 
Some insurance compa- 
nies have begun -to foot the 
bill, and as an alternative, 
patients can join research 
studies funded by the MS 
Association of America 
and receive the system on 
loan. In addition, the MSAA 
has instituted a limited 
funding program for poor 
psiisr-:s. — Peter Callahan 



mil 




Okay, you've seen Jurassic Park, and 
you've seen those dinosaurs running 
around like giant birds: a flock of Gai- 
limimus wheeling and turning like spar- 
rows in the noonday sun, sinister 
Veiociraptors stalking kids like 500- 
pound vultures, and that humongous 
Tyrannosaurus rex, sprinting after a car 
like a giant, five-ton chicken. Suddenly 
the notion that today's birds, from para- 
keets to turkeys to eagles, are the ac- 
tual descendants of dinosaurs such as 
the ones in the movie doesn't seem so 
strange. Unfortunately, the notion that 
birds are dinosaur descendants, or the 
BADD theory, is wrong. Here's why. 

First there's the time problem: The 
most birdlike dinosaurs always occur 
later in the fossil record than Archaeop- 
teryx, the earliest known "true bird." 
The dinosaurs that came before Ar- 
chaeopteryx were all much less birdlike 
than ones that came after. If the BADD 
theory were correct, we would see 
plenty of very birdlike dinosaurs — Ve- 
iociraptors and such — in the fossil 
record earlier than Archaeop- 
leryx. Where are they? 

Second is the size prob- 
lem: The known birdlike di- 
nosaurs were all much larger 
than Archaeopteryx. Archae- 
opteryx fossils are tiny even 
when compared to those of 
Velociraptor and Gallimimus, 
let alone a dragon such as 
Tyrannosaurus rex. Edward 
Cope's Rule of evolution, nu- 
merous instances of which in- 
clude the evolution of horses, 
elephants, and even people, 
states that large forms evolve from 
small forms, not vice versa. This 
doesn't mean it's impossible for small 
animals- to evolve from large ones, only 
that it takes some pretty restrictive cir- 
cumstances — such as complete isola- 
tion on an island for thousands of 
years — to force this to happen. What 
extraordinary environmental conditions 
could have persisted long enough to 
cause behemoths like Tyrannosaurus 
rex and its giant relatives to evolve into 
small, pigeon-sized birds? 

Third is the wing problem: How 
could the tiny, nearly useless arms of a 
dinosaur such as Tyrannosaurus rex 
have possibly evolved into the rela- 
tively huge and powerful arms — the 
wings — of a bird such as Archae- 
opteryx? Maybe T. rex isn't the best ex- 
ample, but even the bigger, more ser- 
viceable arms of Velociraptor and its 
rapacious relatives were too far re- 
moved in size and function from the 
wings of Archaeopteryx. All the birdlike 
dinosaurs, regardless of their geologi- 
cal age, had arms and shoulders that, 
36 OMNI 



although fine for holding and tearing 
prey, would have been completely in- 
adequate for gliding or flying. 

There are many other problems with 
the BADD theory besides those three. 
But don't get me wrong; the bird-dino- 
saur connection is real. There is no 
doubt that birds and dinosaurs are very 
closely related to each other. That mes- 
sage from Jurassic Park is quite cor- 
rect. Birds and birdlike dinosaurs, 
which scientists call theropods, are too 
much alike for their resemblances to 
have arisen just by coincidence. The 
problem is with the nature of the con- 
nection. Did birds and theropods in- 
herit their similarities from a common 
ancestor, like sister groups on the di- 
nosaur family tree? Did birds inherit 
their features from theropods, a la the 
BADD theory? Or is the third possibility, 
that theropods inherited their features 
from birds, closest to the truth? If so, 
birds are not small flying dinosaurs; in- 
stead, dinosaurs were giant flightless 
birds. Strange as it may at first seem, 



ON THE WAY TO PERFECTING 

FLIGHT, THE LINEAGE LEADING FROM REPTILES 

TO BIRDS INCLUDED A NUMBER 

OF SMALL, TRANSITIONAL, TREE-DWELLING 

ANIMALS UNLIKE ANY 

OTHER ANIMALS WE HAVE EVER SEEN. 



this third alternative — what I call the 
"birds came first," or BCF, theory — pro- 
vides the best description of the bird- 
dinosaur connection. 

Dinosauroiogisis have known about 
the bird-dinosaur connection since the 
middle of the nineteenth century. That's 
when legendary paleontologists 
Joseph Leidy and Edward Drinker 
Cope (of Cope's Rule) dug up the first 
fossils which showed that dinosaurs, 
particularly the theropods, walked 
around on their hind legs. Cope in par- 
ticular visualized his 1866 dinosaur 
Laelaps aquilunguls ("eagle-clawed 
hurricane") as "running down its prey 
like a gigantic predatory cassowary, 
The word spread to England, where di- 
nosaurological doyen Richard Owen 
had just finished supervising a set of 
life-sized dino models for the incompa- 
rable Crystal Palace, all in four-footed 
poses (oops!). (They're still on display 
if you happen to visit London and need 
something to do.) Iconoclastic Thomas 
Henry Huxley, Owen's rival, wrote ex- 
tensively on the bird-dinosaur connec- 



tion in the 1860s. But partly because of 
those three problems described es r :>ei 
and an irritating lack of good fossils, di- 
nosaurologists had concluded by the 
early years of the twentieth century that 
birds and theropods were merely sister 
groups, that neither group was de- 
scended from the other. 

In the early 1960s, a hundred years 
after Leidy, Cope, and Huxley, this pic- 
ture was shattered beyond repair by 
John H. Ostrom's discovery in Montana 
of fossil skeletons of the man-sized 
theropod Deinonychus, a close ear' er 
relative ot Velociraptor. Deinonychus 
had so many features in common with 
Archaeopteryx that only a near-lineal 
relationship between the two fossils 
could explain them. Spurred on by the 
discovery of Deinonychus, dinossuroi- 
ogists reexamined other theropod fos- 
sils and came to a similar conclusion. 
They ruled out a sister-group relation- 
ship between birds and theropods, and 
almost everyone rallied to the BADD 
theory, the idea that birds are dinosaur 

descendants. This is quite 

~~ understandable since, 
after all, modern birds are 
more advanced than dino- 
saurs, and birds are still 
here and dinosaurs are ex- 
tinct. But as outlined ear- 
lier, the BADD theory 
doesn't solve the problems 
involving time, size, and 
wings. Far worse: It ig- 
nores them by saying that 
we simply haven't yet 
found the fossils that will 
solve those problems. 
As you'll see, we have indeed found 
such fossils, but we don't even need 
them to understand that something's 
wrong with the BADD theory. All too 
often, when a new birdlike fossil is dis- 
covered, it is hailed as overturning es- 
tablished ideas about dinosaur-bird 
evolution or viewed with surprise and 
dismay as .some kind of paleonxlogi- 
cal paradox or, worst of all, just plain 
disregarded. If the BADD theory were 
substantially correct, such new discov- 
eries would fit satisfyingly into the over- 
all picture, like long-sought jigsaw- 
puzzle pieces, much more often than 
they do. 

The BADD theory views the birdlike 
features of theropods as having come 
together by chance and coincidence in 
the same group of animals, who were 
then able to use those features for 
flight. But flight requires so many nig- 
g ing. highly specific changes to the 
basic theropod body plan that they 
couldn't possibly have "just hap- 
pened," No, the theropod features as- 
sociated with flight in birds must have 



originated serially as improvements 
and adaptations to a very definite life- 
style — beyond doubt, a tree-climbing 
and even tree-dwelling lifestyle. On the 
way toward perfecting (light, the lin- 
eage leading from reptiles to birds in- 
cluded a number of small, transitional, 
tree-dwelling animals unlike any other 
animals we have ever seen. For want ot 
a better term, we can call them dino- 
birds. In my BCF theory, these are the 
"birds" that came first. 

That dinosaurs evolved from small 
dino-birds who climbed trees, leaped 
among branches, glided, and even 
flew in a rudimentary way is perhaps 
the most surprising conclusion ot my 
BCF theory. Yet there is hard evidence 
to support it in the form of actual dino- 
bird specimens — rare, but by no 
means nonexistent, and largely unrec- 
ognized for what they are by BADD pa- 
leontologists. Also, a surprising 
number of dinosaurian features that 
have baffled or been ignored by BADD 
dinosaurologists acquire quite simple 
and reasonable explanations in my 
BCF theory. But rather than bore you 
with long, droning accounts of dino- 
saur anatomy, let me simply tell you the 
story of how dinosaurs, birds, and 
some of their lesser-known relatives 
came to be as seen through BCF eyes. 



I'll cheerfully point oui the BADD inade- 
quacies as we come to them. And in 
the end, you'll see ho.w those three 
problems I outlined earlier practically 
solve themselves when the bird-dino- 
saur relationship is looked at in the 
BCF way. 

Two hundred sixty million years ago, 
just before the end of the Paleozoic 
Era, the earth was inhabited by several 
groups of primitive reptiles, some quite 
odd looking. Although they're often pic- 
tured in dinosaur books, none of them 
were dinosaurs; that long ago, dino- 
saurs hadn't yet evolved. Many, includ- 
ing the largest, which were dumpy, 
ungainly vegetarians about the size of 
cattle, are called therapsids. Among 
the therapsids were also dog-sized 
meat eaters and small, ratlike insecti- 
vores. Some of the other reptiles of the 
time, generally smaller and much more 
lizardlike than the therapsids, are 
called diapsids. The diapsids tried to 
keep out of the way of the therapsids, 
particularly the meat eaters, which 
gladly dined on diapsids whenever 
they could catch them. 

One little lizardlike diapsid, out- 
wardly similar to its immediate ances- 
tors, differed from them in having an 
extra, slitlike hole in its skull in front of 
each eye. If naturalists had been alive 




at the time, none would have dreamed 
that this little reptile would give rise to 
hundreds of thousands of species over 
the next 260 million years — almost 
10,000 still live today. All of its descend- 
ants had that extra hole in the skull, 
often very wide and prominent (Cope 
once mistook it for a dinosaur's eye 
socket), although in some it became 
secondarily covered over or shrank 
away to nonexistence. 

The descendants of that hypotheti- 
cal little reptile are collectively called 
archosaurs, or "ruling reptiles." Their 
time to rule came up soon after the 
therapsids were decimated by the 
great mass extinction that ended the 
Paleozoic Era 245 million, years ago. 
Amazingly enough, a small foot-long 
fossil exists that very closely fits our 
picture of that hypothetical first ar- 
chosaur. Called Mesenosaurus, it was 
originally described in 1940 by a Russ- 
ian paleontologist. No one could pi- 
geonhole it into any reptilian category 
until 1978, when two other Russian pa* 
leontologists reexamined it and found 
the narrow slit in front of its eye. Al- 
though a few paleontologists still dis- 
pute the findings of the Russians, for all 
practical purposes Mesenosaurus is 
the earliest known archosaur, about 10 
million years older than the next earliest 
known archesaur. 

-The first few million years after the 
Paleozoic ended and the Mesozoic Era 
began witnessed an evolutionary free- 
for-all, as the surviving reptile groups 
competed and diversified to fill the va- 
cant large-animal niches. From the 
standpoint of the archosaurs, the im- 
portant thing was that those disagree- 
able therapsid predators were gone. 
The archosaurs eventually won the 
competition, and, in the form of dino- 
saurs, they ruled until another extinc- 
tion ended the Mesozoic Era, a mere 
65 million years ago. Then the tables 
were turned: therapsids, in the form of 
mammals, came out on top again. 

In order to organize the multitude of 
lineages that originated with Meseno- 
saurus, let me focus first on fust the 
one that led to today's birds. This lin- 
eage is particularly important. First, it is 
not yet extinct, making it one of the 
longest possible archosaur lineages. 
Second, it encompasses the largest 
number of important body changes to 
the archosaurs themselves. And third, 
it is the lineage along which all the "fa- 
mous first" archosaurs can be found; 
the first archosaur with a four-cham- 
bered heart, the first archosaur with 
feathers, the first archosaur to glide, 
the first archosaur to perch, the first - 
truly hot-blooded archosaur, the first ar- 
chosaur to fly, and so forth. Let us call 



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it the dino-bird lineage. 

Singling out a central lineage gives 
the family tree a Christmas-tree ap- 
pearance, with a central trunk and lots 
of branches sticking out sideways. 
Each side branch represents a popula- 
tion of animals that at seme time, for 
one reason or another, began to evolve 
differently from the central population. 
Side-branch animals had all the fea- 
tures of the central-lineage animals up 
to the divergence porit because up to 
that point they were the same animals. 
Thereafter, they started acquiring differ- 
ent features. So the later a side branch 
diverged from the dino-bird lineage, 
the more birdlike were the archosai..-- 
on it. However, because it was a side 
branch, it never led to birds. In the ar- 
chosaur "Christmas tree" that forms the 
framework of the BCF theory, meseno- 
saurs are at the root, birds are at the 
pinnacle, dino-birds are on the trunk of 
the tree connecting the root with the 
pinnacle and on a multitude of short, 
pine-needle-like side branches off it, 
and the dinosaurs and other ar- 
chosaurs are on the larger, more exten- 
sive side branches. 

The dino-bird lineage itself probably 
passed through only a couple of hun- 
dred species to get from mesenosaurs 
to birds; the rest of the hundreds of 
thousands of archosaur species, in- 
cluding all the dinosaurs, evolved 
along the side branches. Conse- 
quently, most of the Mesozoic archo- 
saur fossils in our museums are side- 
branch fossils. But by studying them 
and figuring out which of their features 
were inherited from the dino-bird lin- 
eage and which appeared indepen- 
dently later, we can make a good, 
scientific attempt at reconstructing the 
dino-bird lineage itself. A little bit of 
common sense doesn't hurt, either. 

Anyway, a few million years into the 
Mesozoic, dino-birds evolved their 
most dramatic and profound innova- 
tion: the four-chambered heart. This 
had two major advantages over the 
more primitive diapsid circulatory sys- 
tem, which is driven by a simpler, 
three-chambered heart. First, all the 
blood is fully oxygcrateci before being 
pumped around the body; second, the 
blood pressure in the body can be a lot 
higher than in the lungs. 

Owing mainly to incomplete oxy- 
genation, the lifestyles of today's rep- 
tiles, which have three-chambered 
hearts, consist of "sit and wait" periods 
of motionlessness punctuated by 
bursts of activity, or of slow, plodding 
movement with frequent intervals of 
rest. The more efficient, four-cham- 
bered hearts of birds and mammals 
allow them to be active longer and to 



recuperate more quickly from bursts of 
strenuous activity. 

Just as important as complete 
blood oxygenation is having two sepa- 
. rate blood pressures, one at lower 

pressure for the lungs and one at 
higher pressure for the body. Tall, erect 
\ animals — such as today's birds and 

mammals and yesterday's dinosaurs — 
with long legs and heads held well 
above the general body level, need 
high blood pressure to pull the blood 
up from the legs and to push the blood 
up to the head. But if the blood pres- 
sure is too high, blood will flood the 
lungs and drown the animal. The trick 
to keeping the blood pressure in the 
lungs nice and low but the blood pres- 
sure in the body high is to separate the 
pumps for the two circulatory systems. 
The four-chambered heart accom- 
plishes this at the same time it keeps 
stale blood destined for the lungs from 
mixing with fresh blood destined for the 
rest of the body. 

Developing a tall stance, with the 
legs vertical, is thus impossible without 
having those two parallel circulatory 
systems. Three-chambered hearts 
compel animals to be sprawlers, but 
four-chambered hearts are like turbo- 
chargers that allow animals to stand 
tall and to cruise around tirelessly. 
Some scientists try to tie an animal's' 
erect stance and activity level to being 
-. hot-blooded, but having a constant 

body temperature is not as important 
as having a rich oxygen supply and an 
even blood pressure. 

In climbing a tree, a sprawling hori- 
zontal archosaur becomes a de facto 
tall animal when its body goes vertical. 
As the body tilts up, the blood pressure 
in the head falls, inducing dizziness or 
- a momentary faint, and precious split 
seconds are wasted until the low blood 
pressure can accommodate to the 
body's new position. You can see how 
a tree-climbing archosaur with a higher 
blood pressure could better cope with 
the changes in body orientation associ- 
ated with rapid up-and-down tree 
climbing. Among other things, four- 
chambered hearts helped to ensure 
that the earliest dino-birds were splen- 
did tree climbers. 

The appearance of the four-cham- 
bered heart fostered an evolutionary 
* explosion of tall, turbocharged archo- 

saurs. All of a sudden, the fossil record 
fills with large archosaurs with high 
skulls; long, upwardly flexible necks; 
and semierect legs— legs held at an 
angle to the ground, no longer sprawl- 
ing horizontal but not yet vertical, ei- 
ther. Collectively called Thecodontians, 
they ruled the earth for the first two- 
thirds.of the Triassic Period (208 to 245 



million years ago). There were many 
different kinds, small and large, includ- 
ing heavily armored plant eaters, lightly 
built predators, ponderous meat 
eaters, and giant 30-foot-long river- 
dwelling fish eaters. Except for the 
crocodilians, which are the last surviv- 
ing Thecodontians — and today's only 
reptiles possessing four.-chambered 
hearts— they vanished in a series of 
minor mass extinctions during the final 
third of the Triassic. 

The dino-birds, meanwhile, re- 
mained in the trees and continued to 
evolve into ever better tree dwellers. 
Their hands and feet acquired sharp, 
hooklike little claws for climbing tree 
limbs and fronds. Hollow bones light- 
ened their skeletons, helping to reduce 
impact injuries from falls and allowing 
dino-birds to become as agile as mod- 
ern squirrels in leaping among the tree- 
tops, Hundreds of different species 
must have scampered through trees 
and underbrush. Most of those crea- 
tures, however, because of their small 
size, tree-dwelling lifestyle, and deli- 
cate skeletal structure, did not survive 
as fossils. But the pterosaurs, which 
branched off sometime in the Middle 
Triassic, did leave behind an excellent 
fossil record. 

Pterosaurs, the leathery-winged "fly- 



ing reptiles," lasted through the end of 
the Mesozoic and perished in the great 
extinction with the dinosaurs. They 
were the first vertebrates to achieve 
true powered flight, not just the ability 
to glide. Small, sparrow-sized ptero- 
saurs were most numerous during the 
Jurassic Period (145 to 208 million 
years ago), but they seem to have di- 
minished in diversity during the Creta- 
ceous Period (65 to 145 million years 
ago), perhaps because of competition 
from true birds. Giant pterosaurs witn 
wingspans 6 to 30 feet wide arose at 
the beginning of the Cretaceous and 
controlled the skies until its end. Even 
BADD paleontologists agree that ptero- 
saurs originated as small tree dwellers, 
evolved into gliding animals that 
looked something like reptilian flying 
squirrels, and culminated as fully pow- 
ered fliers. 

The wings of pterosaurs differed 
greatly from those of birds and show 
that birds are not pterosaur descend- 
ants, as some people might think. 
Pterosaurs had wings made of a leath- 
ery skin, supported by a single, very 
large "wing finger." Birds, however, 
have wings made of feathers, sup- 
ported by three fingers fused into a sin- 
gle unit. Feathers arise from the same 
parts of the skin as scales, so paleon- 



YE$. \ HAVE A THREE-PART 
QUESTION j EACH PART OF WHICH 
HAS THREE PARTS, EACH PART 
OF EACH PART Of WHICH HAS 

THREE MORE PARTS. 




(A I CH A E L 



G>. 4 A. TIME ATTH& 
Ff<ACTAL GEOMETRY CONFERENCE 



UK ^Ww 

T 



Science^ 
Rational? 

Article Bv George Zebrowski 



I 



e rational? 

Of course It is— under the circumstances. 

The dream of a cerebral cortex freed from the lower regions 

or mind and body, or at least in control 

of the lower regions, was first expressed in religions. 

mythologies, and philosophies as a yearning 

for the angelic, for a sinless slate aspiring to gcdhood. With 

the growth of science, this wish for 

rational scir-posscssion began to do more effective battle 

with human error and irrational ily. 
The very aim of science is to get around human error and 

irrationality, not to mention the 

preconceptions of "common sense" and "mythic traditions." 

Science docs this through rep eatable 

forms of experience, called experiments, that strive to 

establish assemblies of facts, called theories. 

that will resist disproof through continuing experimental 






■ fi In h 



P.\\ 



tests. These provisional truths may 
stand indefinitely or be toppled by an 
experiment or be subsumed into some 
broader theoretical structure, but they 
can always, in principle, be exposed 
as false or incomplete. That is, we al- 
ways know what it would take for them 
to be undermined. This vulnerability to 
doubt and disproof through physical 
experiment and observation is what 
makes them scientific. Theirs is an es- 
sential modesty as opposed to dogma- 
tisms that are consistent with any and 
all facts and that can never, in princi- 
ple, be refuted. 

Rationality in science means that 
what we think is true must agree with 
what we can experience through ob- 
servation and experiment, so that what 
is in our heads agrees, with allowances 
for error, with what's outside. This mod- 
est rationality has built for us an island 
of the provisionally known that remains 
surrounded by an ocean of the un- 
known. As the island grows larger, it 
expands into the unknown. 

What kind of science are 
we describing by the above? 
This is the science of a ration- 
alizing, not fully rational 
species which must come at 
nature's mysteries through es- 
sentially fallible means, with 
fallible, finite minds. Given 
this, it's remarkable that we 
have invented an inductive 
method that enlists reason, in- 
tuition, imagination and IJ 
guessing, observation and ex- 
periment in an attempt to get | '•»*—■■ 
around ourselves, around our 
own limits and capacities for error and 
failure, as much as it strives to pene- 
trate the unknown. Nevertheless, de- 
spite science's successes, the 
philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey, in distin- 
guishing between explanation and un- 
derstanding, reminds us that the 
human scientist must inevitably attempt 
to explain more than he can under- 
stand, always carrying within himself, 
in the words of the French scholar Jean 
Wahl, both "the inexpressible and the 
need for knowledge," with "no contra- 
diction between them," since "one calls 
for the other." 

What kind of universe is it that 
makes this kind of science necessary 
for us? Do we live in a universe that is 
rational outside our minds but whose 
order can only be glimpsed by us 
through its simplicity and beauty? Do 
we live in a transcendent rational order 
which our fallible, rationalizing minds 
can only approach by putting erasers 
on the ends of our scientific pencils? 
The way in which we conduct our sci- 
ences may tell us as much about our- 

46 OMNI 



selves as it does about nature. 

Science confronts two kinds of irra- 
tionality — the human, in the error-prone 
conduct of scientific research and its 
applications, and the natural, in the 
seeming irrationality of the physical uni- 
verse. Against human irrationality, sci- 
ence has only the authority of 
organized experience — the merits of 
observations and experiments pat- 
terned into descriptive and explanatory 
theoretical structures that yield suc- 
cessful predictions and raise new tech- 
nologies. Besides having economic 
value, science attempts to persuade us 
that its candidates for truth and practi- 
cal application are valid, 



philosophers once called the noumenal 
world of things-in-themselves behind 
phenomena, the underpinnings of the 
world we see. 

Despite Schopenhauer's famous 
statement that "The world is my repre- 
sentation," that we "do noE know a sun 
and an earth, but only an eye that sees 
a sun, a hand that feels an earth," we 
have glimpsed, through mathematical 
reasoning confirmed by experiment, 
the universe that exists outside the 
shaping effect of our senses. 

But what if our science rests on irra- 
tional impulses that we cannot mea- 
sure? What if our mind is a ruler that 
cannot measure itself without always 



slowed, as are all human enterprises, getting the same answer? We know 

by a biologically and socially limited 
human psychology that seems at odds 
with itself and nature. But despite the 
fact that it is our humanity that con- 
strains the science we have — fallible, in 
constant need of correction, and some- 
times irrational — we imagine that we 
can glimpse a science beyond our nat- 



' \ - DOWELIVEJNA - ; ' 
UNIVERSE THAT IS RATIONAL OUTSIDE 
: -" "OUR MINDS BUT . .:'' . 
WHOSE ORDER CAN- BE 'GLIMPSED BY 

US THROUGH 
.;... ITS SIMPLICITY AND BEAUTY? 



ural bias, a way out of ourselves. 

The dream of reason is to step out- 
side the human skin and see reality 
plain, free from social and adaptive bi- 
ological prejudices, to glimpse the 
"thingness" of all the "otherness" out- 
side our minds that is not us. We can 
talk about it, but have we ever been 
"outside," even for a moment? I would 
say that we have looked outside in two opment of artificial intelligence, which 



that the clouded mind continues to see 
itself as normal. Human reason cannot 
help but define itself as normal, what- 
ever its limits. Is all our knowledge 
ephemeral, serving only our limited bi- 
ological and social context? Or is more 
possible? Perhaps if we can do as 
much as we have, and even see the 
circular nature of being 
ourselves embedded in 
the problem, then we might 
be able to break into a 
greater objectivity, step- 
ping out from one frame 
into the next, seeing clearly 
what is in the prior frame 
but unable to understand 
the" frame we have 
stepped into — until we 
step into the one beyond it. 
Many scientists believe 
that the process of uncov- 
ering new knowledge may 
never end, even though some, includ- 
ing Stephen Hawking, seem reluctant 
to rule out the possibility of getting to 
the bottom of physics. It does seem 
possible to widen the scope of what 
science is doing, in further relative 
ways, and even to take a few steps 
outside the present limits of our minds. 
Two ways seem at hand. The devel- 



ways — the first imaginative, the second 
experimental. Whenever we feel disillu- 
sioned, strange under the stars, alien 
to ourselves and to each other, and re- 
alize that we have given ourselves 
what seem to be arbitrary identities, we 
know that we are much more than we 
can say — and that realization is a kind 
of inhuman objectivity that invades our 
conventional way of seeing ourselves. 
The second, experimental way yields 
what scientists call "nonintuitive" theo- 
ries, especially in physics^ where we 
know that the conclusions, experimen- 
tally confirmed and convincing, violate 
our everyday expectations. Physicists 
.have slowly built up a map of what 



is also a way of trying to understand 
the human mind, may give us perspec- 
tives on human intelligence and (irra- 
tionality. Contact with an alien race, 
assuming even a modicum of lucid 
communication, would give us another 
view of ourselves, although we may not 
like what we might hear from them. 
Both of these possibilities might give 
us fresh vantages from which to look 
back at ourselves, thus increasing our 
relative objectivity. "Give me a firm 
place to stand," said Archimedes, "and 
I will move the earth." We might 
change his words and say, "Give me a 
place from which to see, and I will ex- 
plain both myself and the universe." 



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Of course, an alien science would 
have alien biological limits and irra- 
tionalities to overcome, which we might 
not even be able to guess at. Every- 
thing we can say about the limits of 
human science, should also apply to an 
alien science — in an alien way. Per- 
haps an alien civilization might con- 
sider its science both rational and 
complete and ours hopelessly biased, 
fragmented by too timid an approach 
to truth. Would we confront these aliens 
with Godel's Proof and insist that the 
universe is bottomless while they 
claimed to have already learned every- 
thing? It might turn out that what they 
mean by having learned "everything" is 
that they know enough to do everything 
they want to do, and the fulfillment of 
curiosity beyond. that point would be to 
them pointless, even irrational. There 
can be no science that will not be af- 
fected, to some degree, by the species 
practicing it. Yet we have won a vision 
from the traditions of our human sci- 
ences that has enabled us to glimpse a 
broader ideal of scientific honesty and 
enterprise that might be universal — the 
conception of mind in nature — growing 
beyond the origins of species to a 
greater objectivity that might be further 
enhanced when two or more intelligent 
species meet and compare notes. 



Einstein said, "God does not play 
dice with, the universe." In time, we 
would find the missing pieces of tine 
theory, and the seemingly irrational as- 
pects would vanish. More recently, 
Stephen Hawking has suggested that 
"God not only plays dice, but He also 
sometimes throws the dice where they 
cannot be seen." 

Infinities, when they turn up in physi- 
cal theories, are considered Irrational, 
a sign of a problem with the work, 
something to be eliminated. The no- 
tions of an eternally existing, spatially 
infinite universe, or an eternal God, or 
the square root of 2, seem to be Irra- 
tional, because actual infinities appear 
inexplicable. But our resistance to the 
irrationality of infinity reveals that our in- 
tuition of what is rational requires limits, 
discretions, and a "irr.e perspective — 
the view from discrete angles. We're al- 
ways cutting things into manageable 
bits; this is what we mean by analysis. 
Perhaps what we know as human rea- 
son may not be all of reason. 

Is the universe rational outside our 
minds? Many scientists would say yes, 
but it is its vast diversity, according to 
William Poundstone in The Labyrinths 
of Reason, that forces us to "com- 
press" its features into our finite brains 
as inductive generalizations that leave 




out what is not essential. In a pclocrly 
rational universe, infinities turn back on 
themselves; others are complex sys- 
tems that only appear to be infinities. A 
universe may appear irrational to us 
because it isn't simple-mindedly ration- 
al. The rationality of our universe is- best 
suggested by the fact that we can dis- 
cover more about it from any starting 
point, as if it were a fabric that will un- 
ravel from any thread. Why can we do 
this? Richard Feynman answered by 
saying, "I think it is because nature has 
a simplicity and therefore a great 
beauty." All irrationality may be ours. 

The sudden leap to a new scientific 
insight is not easily explained and itself 
seems irrational. In his book Genius: 
The Life and Science of Richard Feyn- 
man, James Gleick quotes mathemati- 
cian Mark Kac: "There are two kinds of 
geniuses, the 'ordinary' and the 'magi- 
cians.' An ordinary genius is a fellow 
that you and I would be just as good 
as, if we were only many times better. 
There is no mystery as to how his mind 
works. Once we understand what he 
has done, we feel certain that we, too, 
could have done It. It is different with 
the magicians — the workings of their 
minds are for all intents and purposes 
incomprehensible. Even after we un- 
derstand what they have done, the 
process by which they have done it is 
completely dark." Gleick playfully pre- 
sents Murray Gell-Mann's description 
of magician Richard Feynman's 
method: "You write down the problem. 
You think very hard. (He shuts his eyes 
and presses his knuckles parodically 
to his forehead.) Then you write down 
the answer," 

This is not as silly as it may seem. 
To write down the problem presup- 
poses a background and experience in 
science, making possible the framing 
of a useful question thai might be an- 
swered through experiment and math- 
ematical manipulation. And such a 
question may have considerable 
grounding in earlier experiments and 
calculations before it reaches this 
stage; it may even be possible to 
guess consequences and from those 
consequences new principles, even 
new laws — which then have to be es- 
tablished through further experiment. 
There does seem to be a kind of 
heuristic irrationality in the activity, 
which enables one to make discoveries 
that could not be mechanically de- 
duced. Completely rational would be 
mechanically deducible — as certain as 
addition — and that is not how scientists 
always proceed. 

An imaginative jump seems to 
occur when important new discoveries 
are made, despite the fact that scien- 



tists freely admit that they have to 
stand on the shoulders of previous sci- 
entists in order to see beyond. But "our 
imagination is stretched to the utmost," 
Feynman said, "not as in fiction, to 
imagine things which are not really 
there, but just to comprehend thoi 
things which are there." Gleick reco: 
nizes that scientists are constrained by 
the "ever more intricate assemblage of 
theorems, technologies, laboratory re- 
sults, and mathematical formalisms 
that make up the body of known sci- 
ence," but it is these very constraints 
that produce what may be called the 
"imaginative crunch," — a sudden act of 
unconscious deduction and creative 
guessing, coming out of a rich syner- 
gistic critical mass that took much ef- 
fort to bring together. In effect, one way 
or another, quite a bit of work has pre- 
ceded what appears to be a discontin- 
uous leap. 

But the seeming irrationality of the 
above description persists when we 
ask why we can't discover anything ex- 
cept through tortuous effort and inge- 
nuity. Is our life some kind of game, 
with hidden prizes? The naivete of 
such a question is only superficial be- 
cause it does ask a profound, though 
probably unanswerable, question. The 
fact that most people will smile at it. 
points up the degree to which we have 
domesticated fundamental enigmas. It 
may be said that if one were to design 
a universe that would be interesting to 
live in, it would be one that does not 
give us anything on a silver platter, but 
requires imagination and a great "inter- 
play of induction and deduction, of am- 
biguity and certainty," in Poundstone's 
words. What kind of existence would it 
be to live without difficulties? One is 
tempted to say that such an existence 
would make no rational sense. Or 
would it be as Nietzsche and Rimbaud 
sometimes imagined, "the rational 
song of the angels," free of the raucous 
race for goals? 

One may wonder again if any of our 
human conceptions of reason have 
anything to do with the reality outside 
our bodies' selective restrictions. Fur- 
thermore, as Gleick points out, "The 
forms and constraints of scientific 
practice are held in place not just by 
the grounding in experiment but by Ihe 
customs of a community more homo- 
geneous and ruiebound than any com- 
munity of artists. Scientists still speak 
unashamedly of reality, even in the 
quantum era, of objective truth, of a 
world independent of human construc- 
tion, and they sometimes seem the last 
members of the intellectual universe to 
do .so." Yet, Gleick emphasizes, "reality 
hobbles their imaginations. "-New dis- 



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coveries and novelties can either come 
by building on the past or by breaking 
with it, at least to some degree. One' 
must say, then, that the mass of seem- 
ing irrationalities, anomalies, contradic- 
tions, proliferating infinities, may be the 
most important parts of any science. 
They drive the accumulation of new 
knowledge. 

If a fundamental science like 
physics is ever completed — that is, if 
all of its laws are ever enumerated — 
the achievement will throw a great final- 
ity over human life, diminishing and 
perhaps destroying the goal-oriented 
philosophy of inquiry that was born 
when human curiosity became aware 
of itself. We will then always have to 
live with the suspicion that every ques- 
tion may in time be answered, that 
everything will in time be exhausted, 
and we may then develop a nostalgia 
for the mysterious, ultimately unknow- 
able universe of seemingly irrational in- 
finities in which we once imagined that 
we lived. And we may conclude that 
taking the blinders off our minds was 
not an aesthetically reasonable or 
pleasant accomplishment, as we real- 
ize that less was infinitely more, that ig- 
norance was at least sometimes 
blissful, and that the apples that grew 
from the tree of knowledge turned out 
to be poisonous in an unexpected way. 

Even if one. denies that the disap- 
pointment of the above described un- 
desirable cui-de-sac is possible, one 
may still conclude that openness 
seems to be just as irrational a state as 
closure. Perfect knowledge seems just 
as irrational a state as no knowledge. 

Science is rational enough — under 
the circumstances of our finite exis- 
tence — because it avoids each ex- 
treme and is content to learn a lot, 
short of everything, by. matching up 
theories to observations and experi- 
ments while keeping an open, but not 
credulous, mind. We live in an ocean of 
truth, in which, as Godel proved, com- 
plex "truth" can have no finite, rational 
form — for us. 

Still, one may persist in wondering 
whether finitude is not somehow an ir- 
rational state to be in, and how strange 
it is that limits, definitions, and the 
drawing of finite boundaries are the 
very core of our conceptions of reason, 
according to which we can be rational, 
even superrational. Yet we' sometimes 
continue to delude ourselves by imag- 
ining that we hear the "rational song of 
the angels," the higher reason beyond 
our reason, haunting us with a memory 
of completeness, as if we were frag- 
ments broken off from something vast 
and eternal, seeking to regain that 
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ARTICLE BY DENNIS STACY 

COSMIC 

CONSPIRACY: 
SIX DECADES 

OF GOVERNMENT 
UFO COVER-UPS 

PART THREE 



The third in a six-part 
series on govern- 
ment suppression of 
UFO-related material, this 
article examines the 1960s. 
The Sixties were marked 
by upheaval: street riots 
outside the Democratic 
National Convention in 
Chicago, .demonstrations 
against the war in Vietnam, 
"free iove," and psyche- 
delic drugs. And ac- 
cording to pundits, a "Big 
Brother" government intent 
on suppressing the winds 
of change had extended its 
reach beyond the merely 
social or political to the 
realm of UFOs. The result 
of this saucer suppression? 
Angry congressional hear- 
ings and the closure of 
Project Blue Book, the Air 
Force agency responsible 
for investigating UFOs. 



The Sixties' "Saucer- 
gate" was triggered on 
March 20, 1966, when a 
glowing, football-shaped 
■ UFO was reported hov- 
ering above a swampy 
area near the women's 
dormitory of a small college 
in Hillsdale, Michigan. 
Witnesses included 87 
female students and the 
local civil-defense director. 
The following night in 
Dexter, 63 miles away, 
another UFO was spotted 
by five people, including 
two police officers. 

The Michigan sightings 
provoked a national outcry: 
in short, the public wanted 
an explanation. Addressing 
the largest media gathering 
in the history of the Detroit 
Free Press Club, Project 
Blue Book spokesman J. 
Allen Hynek, an astronomer 



:/ V. 






ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS MOORL 



with Ohio State University, finally ven- 
tured an opinion. He said the s chthgs 
might be due to "swamp gas"— 
methane gas from rotting vegetation 
that had somehow spontaneously ig- 
nited. The explanation didn't wash, and 
both Hynek and the Air Force found 
themselves the brunt of immediate and 
almost universal ridicule. Newspapers 
had a field day as cartoonists, colum- 
nists, and editorial writers nationwide 
lampooned the Air Force suggestion. 

In a letter to the House Armed Ser- 
vices Committee, then-Michigan con- 
gressman and House Republican 
minority leader (and later president) 
Gerald R. Ford called for congressional 
hearings on the subject, arguing that 
"the American public deserves a better 
explanation than that thus far given by 
the Air Force." The subcommittee sub- 
sequently held its hearing on April 5, 
1966, but only three individuals, all with 
Air Force connections, were invited to 
testify: Hynek; then-Blue Book chief 
Hector Quintanilla; and Harold D. 
Brown, secretary of the Air 
Force. Brown told the commit- 
tee, chaired by L. Mendel Riv- 
ers, that they had no evidence 
of an extraterrestrial origin of 
UFOs, nor was there any indi- 
cation that UFOs constituted a 
threat to national security. 

Under scrutiny, however, 
the Air Force eventually 
agreed to an outside review of 
Blue Book's files. Toward that 
end, the Air Force awarded 
$500,000 to the University of 
Colorado at Boulder. The 
major-domo of this extensive review 
was physicist Edward U. Condon, for- 
mer director of the National Bureau of 
Standards. His second in command 
was the assistant dean of the graduate 
school, Robert Low. 

Initially, critics of the government's 
UFO policy were happy to see the mat- 
ter out of Air Force hands. But it didn't 
iake long for their faith in the Condon 
effort to fade. If the Air Force had tried 
to gloss over the UFO issue, said re- 
tired Marine major Donald E. Keyhoe, 
director of the civilian National Investi- 
gation Committee on Aerial Phenom- 
ena (NICAP), the Condon Commission 
was even worse. 

The day after his appointment, for 
instance, Condon was quoted in the 
Denver Rocky Mountain News. He saw 
"no evidence," he said, for "advanced 
life on other planets." Moreover, he ex- 
plained, the study would give the pub- 
lic a "better understanding of ordinary 
phenomena, which, if recognized at 
once, would reduce the number of 
UFO reports " 

56 OMNI 



Low, Condon's chief administrator, 
seems to have prejudged the reality of 
UFOs, to'o. In a telling memo written to 
University administrators, Low noted 
that "the trick would be, I think, to de- 
scribe the project so that to the public 
it would appear a totally objective 
study but to the scientific community 
would present the image of a group of 
nonbelievers trying their best to be ob- 
jective but having an almost zero ex- 
pectation of finding a saucer." 

Condon soon fired the two senior 
staffers he blamed for leaking the 
memo to the press. Two weeks later, 
Mary Lou Armstrong, his own adminis- 
trative assistant resigned, citing low 
morale within the project as a whole. 
"Low's attitude from the beginning," 
she wrote, "has been one of nega- 
tivism. [He] showed little interest in 
keeping current on sightings, either by 
reading or talking with those who did." 
At one point, Low left for a month, os- 
tensibly to represent ihe Condon Com- 
mittee at the International Astronomical 



THE SCIENTIFIC 

COMMUNITY WOULD PERCEIVE A GROUP OF 

NONBELIEVERS 

TRYING THEIR BEST TO BE OBJECTIVE BUT 

HAVING AN ALMOST 

ZERO EXPECTATION OF FINDING A SAUCER. 



Union in Prague. Staff members sug- 
gested he use the opportunity to meet 
with veteran UFO researchers in Eng- 
land and France, instead, Low went to 
Loch Ness, claiming that sea monsters 
and UFOs might share some similari- 
ties since neither existed. Even so, 
there is no record that he filed any writ- 
ten notes on his investigations. 

The Condon Report was published 
in August of 1968 as the Scientific 
Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. In 
all. 30 of the 91 cases analyzed re- 
mained unidentified. Examining the fa- 
mous McMinnyille, Oregon, UFO 
photos, for example, project investiga- 
tors opined that this was "one of the 
few UFO reports in which all factors in- 
vestigated, geometric, psychological, 
and physical, appear to be consistent 
with the assertion that an extraordinary 
flying object, silvery, metallic, disc 
shaped, flew within sight of two wit- 
nesses." Of a radar/visual UFO sight- 
ing that occurred over Lakenheath, 
England, in August of 1965, the study 
concluded that "the probability that at 



least one genuine UFO was involved 
appeared to be fairly high." 

Yet these suggestions that an un- 
identified phenomenon might indeed 
be afoot were buried in a bulky 1,500- 
page report. More readily accessible to 
the media was Condon's- conclusion, 
published at the beginning of the study 
ralher than at the end, as was standard 
scientific procedure. Essentially, Con- 
don concluded, "further extensive 
study of UFOs probably cannot be jus- 
tified in the expectation that science 
will be advanced thereby." 

The Air Force seized the opportunity 
to withdraw from ihe minefield of UFOs, 
and on December 17, 1969, called a 
press conference to announce the 
closing of Project Blue Book. Citing the 
Condon report, acting secretary of the 
Air Force, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., told 
reporters that Blue Book's continuation 
could no longer "be justified on 
grounds of national security or in the in- 
terest of science." 

Critics contend that Blue Book 
never mounted a thorough 
scientific investigation of 
the UFO phenomenon to 
begin with, and that during 
its 22-year involvement 
with the issue, it had func- 
tioned as little more than 
a public-relations program. 
The charge, it turns out, 
was- made by Hynek him- 
self. In his last interview, 
granted this reporter 
shortly before his death 
from a brain tumor, Hynek 
avowed that while the Air 
Force always said it was interested in 
the study of UFOs, officials regularly 
"turned handsprings to keep a good 
case from getting to the attention of the 
media. Any case they solved," Hynek 
added, "they had no trouble talking 
about. It was really sad." 

As the Sixties came to a close, the 
Air Force finally got what it wanted; It 
officially washed its hands of UFOs. ■ 
Condon continued to deny the subject 
was "shrouded in secrecy." Overall, he 
said, the Air Force had done a com- 
mendable job. 

Hynek agreed, though for reasons 
of his own. "The Air Force regarded 
UFOs as an intelligence matter, and it 
became increasingly more and more 
embarrassing to them," he said. "After 
all, we paid good tax dollars to have 
the Air Force guard our skies, and it 
would have been bad public relations 
for them to say, 'Yes, there's something 
up there, but we're helpless.' They just 
couldn't do that, so they took the very 
human action of protecting their own 
interests. "DO 



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MORU1HQ EPITlON AND A I, 1. THINGS CONSIDERED 
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wind, either; worse than Kansas, she 
said on that trip. On my first visit to her 
farm in Kansas I marveled at the stars, 
and she took that to be a sign of a sim- 
ple mind. But I knew then, and I think I 
still know, that they have more stars in 
Kansas than they do at the Oregon 
coast. Grandmother also said Warren 
was simple-. But that was later, ten 
years ago. 

The impenetrable darkness has 
made me think of her, I suppose. She 
talked about growing up on the prairies 
that were virtually uninhabited, of being 
out late when there wasn't a light to be 
seen, of her fear of the dark then and 
forever after. When I said I wasn't afraid 
of the dark, she muttered, "You don't 
know dark, child. You don't know." I do 
now. 

She came out of the kitchen mutter- 
ing the day I took Warren home io meet 
my family. "That man ain't as smart as 
he thinks," she said. "He don't know 
enough to open a can. Simple, that's 
what he is." I went to the kitchen to find 
Aunt Jewel showing Warren 
how to use an old can opener. 
He had never seen one like it. 
Simple. He was thirty, with a 
Ph.D., tenure at the University 
of Oregon, working with Gre- 
gory Oldhams. He had turned 
down other, better-paid, posi- 
tions for the chance to work 
with Greg; he could have 
gone to Harvard, Stanford, al- 
most anywhere he wanted. 

It has started to rain, a 
soothing monotonous patter 
on the roof of the car, and now 
a wind has come up, rustling in the firs, 
in the vine maples, the broom that 
grows down the face of the cliff where 
nothing else can find enough dirt to 
sink roots. I am very tired. 

I brought Warren up here before we 
were married; he was envious. "You 
grew up in a wilderness!" he said, He 
had grown up in Brooklyn. 

"Well, you're here now," I said. "So it 
doesn't really matter so much, does it?" 

"It matters," he said, gazing down at 
the ocean, then turning to look at the 
trees, and finally at the A-frame house 
below us and across a shallow ravine. I 
had lived in that house for the first 
twelve years of my life. "It matters," he 
repeated. "You have things in your 
eyes I'll never get. I have people and 
traffic and buildings, and people, more 
people, always more people, always 
more cars, more exhaust, more 
noise. . . ," He stopped and I was glad. 
There was anguish in his voice, bitter- 
ness — I didn't know what it was; I didn't 
want to know if. 

Greg Oldhams is the foremost re- 
60 OMNI 



searcher in hematology, the study of 
blood. He already was famous when 
Warren started working with him, and 
since then his research, and Warren's, 
has become what the articles call leg- 
endary. At first, after I met Warren, I felt 
almost ashamed of my own field— me- 
dieval literature. What was the point in 
that, I wondered, compared to the im- 
portance of what they were doing? At 
first, Warren talked about his work with 
excitement, passion even, but then he 
stopped. I know to the day when it 
changed. On Mikey's fifth birthday, five 
years ago. Warren didn't come home in 
time for the party, and when he did get 
home, he was old. 

A person can become old in a day, I 
learned then. Mikey turned five; Warren 
turned a hundred. 

The wind is increasing; there may 
be a gale moving in. I had to roll up the 
window on my side when the rain 
started, and when I reached over to 
open the passenger side window, I re- 
alized l still had the seat belt fastened 



,;„;.; A GALE HAS: . 

ARRIVED FINALLY, NOW THE 

;*" - TREES ARE - : 

THRASHING, AND THE BROOM IS 

WHIPPING ABOUT 

FURIOUSLY, SHRiEKlNG : EERILY.". 



and then it seemed too hard to work 
the clasp and free myself. I began to 
laugh, and then 1 was crying and 
laughing. I don't care if rain comes in 
the passenger side, but the wind 
makes a harsh whistling sound through 
the narrow opening near my head, and 
I have to decide, open the window 
more and get wet, or close it. I can't 
bear the whistling noise. Finally I make 
the effort to undo the seat belt, reach 
over, and open the other window and 
close the driver-side one. Now 1 can 
hear the ocean, and the rain, and even 
the wind in the trees. So much exertion, 
I mock myself, but I have to lean back 
and rest. 

This is where I told Warren yes, I 
would marry him, up here overlooking 
the sea. "No children," he said. "The 
world has enough children." 

I backed away from him and we re- 
garded each other. "But I want a fam- 
ily," I said after a moment. "At least one 
child of ours, our genes. We can adopt 
another one or two." 

Nothing was settled that day. We 



went back to the A-frame and banged 
pots and pans and argued and I told 
him to get lost, to get out of my life, and 
he said it would be criminal to bring an- 
other child into the world and I was 
being selfish, and the much-touted ma- 
ternal urge was cultural, and I said 
people like us owed it to children to 
give them the same advantages we 
had, education, love, care. ... It went 
on into the night, when I told him to 
sleep on the couch, and the next day, 
until I stomped out of the house and 
came up here to glare at the ocean 
and its incessant racket. He came after 
me. "Christ," he said. "Jesus. One." 
Two months later we were married and 
I was pregnant. 

When Mikey was two he got a big 
sister, Sandra, who was three and a 
half, and a year later he got a bigger 
brother, Chris, who was five. Our family. 
Mikey was four when they all had 
chicken pox at the same time. One 
night Warren was keeping them enter- 
tained, coloring with them at the table 
while 1 made dinner. 

""Why did you make him 
green?" Chris demanded. 

"Because he has artifi- 
cial blood," Warren said, 
"Why?" 

"Because something 
went wrong with his blood 
and they had to take it out 
and put in artificial blood." 
Mikey began to cry, "is 
that what they'll do to us?" 

"Nope. You're not sick 
enough. You've just got 
spots on your face. You 
call that sick? I call it kvetching." 

"What's that?" Sandra asked. She 
had fallen in love with Warren the day 
we met her, and he loved all three chil- 
dren. 

"That's when you grow spots on 
your face, and itch, and pretend you're 
sick so your mother will let you eat ice 
cream all day if you .want. And your 
dad plays silly games with you when 
he should be at work. That's kvetch- 
ing." 

They liked kvetching. Later they got 
into my lipstick and tried to make it all 
happen again, spots, whining for ice 
cream, laughing. 

Later it was funny, but that night, 
with my sick children at the table, itch- 
ing, feverish, it was not funny. I froze at 
the sink with water running over let- 
tuce. Artificial blood? We were still in 
the cold war; atomic war was still pos- 
sible, anything was possible. Even arti- 
ficial blood. 

"Why?" I asked, after the children 
were in bed. 

He had to start way back. "Remem- 



ber in the movie Dracula how the good 
doctor transfused one of the women 
over and over with whole blood, and it 
took? Pure luck. Lucy was probably an 
A-group type, and so was the guy. If he 
had put blood from an group in her, 
she probably would have died on him. 
That's how it was. One took, another 
one, then bingo, it didn't. Then they 
found out about the blood groups, and 
later on about how the agglutinogens 
combine with certain agglutinins, and 
not others. And we've been learning 
ever since. The body treats the wrong 
blood type just like any other invading 
organism, bacterium, virus, whatever, 
and rejects it. But in the case of a 
major catastrophe you can't count on 
the lab facilities to handle the typing, 
the storage, all the mechanics of trans- 
fusions. The labs might not be there. 
We've got artificial blood now, you 
" know, but it's pretty high-tech stuff." 

I hadn't known until then. I shud- 
dered, and he grinned. "So what's 
wrong with being green? Don't worry, 
it's still experimental, and very, 
very temporary, Anyway, if we 
could get away from some of 
the really high-tech stuff and 
simply transfuse from any 
healthy person to one who is 
ill . . . see?" 

"But wouldn't that be just 
as high tech?" - 

He shrugged. "Maybe. 
Maybe not. There are genetic 
blood characteristics that get 
passed on from parent to 
child, you know. Sickle cell 
anemia, which, by the way, 
comes in a package that includes re- 
sistance to malaria. Hemophilia gets 
passed on. . . ." Whatever expression 
my face- was registering made him 
stop. "Hey," he said softly. "I'm just spit- 
balling." ' 

I jerked upright so fast, 1 bumped 
into the steering wheel. I must have 
been dozing, dreaming. How clear 
Warren was, his hair thinning just a 
touch, a little too long, the color of wet 
sand; that day he had a suntan and 
looked almost ruddy. A big-faced 
ruddy man who looked as if he should 
be out plowing, or putting a roof on a 
building, or something else physically 
demanding. A sailor, he would have 
made a fine sailor. I can't see him now; 
my imagination is faulty in that I can't 
see images with any sharp detail. Only 
my dreams re-create with exactitude 
the people I have loved. My parents 
live on in my dreams; Warren is there; 
the children, but they won't show them- 
selves to my waking mind. I have only 
feelings, impressions, nuances that 
have no names.. Warren is a loving 

62 OMNI 



presence, a comforting presence, big- 
ger in my mind than ever in person, 
stronger: more reassuring, strangely 
more vulnerable so that I feel I have to 
protect him. From what is as unclear as 
the visual image. 

When I drove down here from the 
Portland airport, it was my intention to 
turn into the driveway to the house_ 
where I played out my childhood; in- 
stead, I kept driving, followed the road 
that became a track up to this cokoui 
point. The end of the road. The place 
where the world disappears. 

We came out here with Greg two 
years ago. His wife was gone by then, 
back to Indiana or somewhere with 
their two children, and he was lonely. 
Or so Warren said. I didn't believe it, 
and still don't believe Greg ever knew 
onelirtess. His work was world enough. 
We built a fire on the beach and the 
children played in the surf and came 
near to get warm, then raced back to 
the frigid water. 

"Tell Greg about the meals," Warren 



" THERE'S A 
.'VAGUE MEMORY OF SOMEONE 
. ELSE PUNCHING' 1 

NUMBERS FROM MY CREDIT 1 " 

. CARD, i MUST 
: "HAVE ASKED FOR HELP. 



said, grinning, contented that day, 
even though he was a hundred years 
old. 

I had told him and the children 
about a typical meal during the time of 
Abelard and Heloise. Our children 
wanted to eat that way, too. A long 
board against the wall, food within 
reach of everyone, people sharing the 
same bowls, the same cups, eating 
with spoons or fingers. The beggars 
crowding about, and the dogs crowd- 
ing everyone, snapping at each other, 
at the beggars, at the diners and the 
servers. 

Greg laughed when I described it. 
He was lazy looking, relaxed, but if 
Warren had turned a hundred, Greg 
had turned two hundred. An old wor- 
ried man, 1 thought. He was only forty- 
five according to the official records, 
but I knew he was ancient. 

"Was that during the plague years''" 
he asked. He was leaning against a 
forty-foot-iong tree that had crashed 
ashore, riding the waves to be 
stranded here, a memento of the 



power of the sea during a storm. The 
tree trunk was eight feet thick. It might 
have been alive in Abelard's time. 

"Not much plague yet, not in epi- 
demic form in Europe at least, although 
plague was recorded back in the sixth 
century, you understand, -and contin- 
ued intermittently until it struck in pan- 
demic force later, about the fifteenth 
century, This period was eleven hun- 
dred or so. Why?" 

"The beggars were inside at the 
tabie?" he asked, bemused. 

"They were kicked out shortly after 
that; the beggars had to stay beyond 
the door, but the dogs weren't ban- 
ished." 

The conversation ended there; the 
children found a starfish which we all 
went to examine, and the sun was 
going down by then. 

Late that night we discussed when 
we would leave tor home the following 
day. Traffic had been bumper to 
bumper coming out and it would be 
worse on Sunday. 

"I may stay on a few 
days with the kids," I said. 
Warren could go back with 
Greg early, what they were 
both inclined to do, but I 
knew the children would 
be disappointed at the 
short stay, as I was. It was 
summer; I had no classes, 
and this was the only kind 
of vacation we would have, 
a day now and then, two, 
three days at the coast. 

"I wonder what it was 
like during the plague 
years," Greg mused, reviving the sub- 
ject we had left hours before. "Any- 
where from one-third to half the people 
gone, jusi gone." 

"It wasn't exactly like that," I said. "It 
took three hundred years before it 
stopped sweeping the continent in epi- 
demic form, and during that period the 
church became the power it is now. 
Superstition, heresies, empowerment 
for the church and state, fear for the 
public, that's what was going on. Life 
was hell for most survivors." 

"And the Renaissance came about." 
Greg said thoughtfully. "Would it have 
happened without the plague? No one 
really knows, do they?" 

"That's the romantic version," I said, 
not quite snapping at him. "The silver- 
lining theory. Out of every evil thing 
comes something good. You believe 
that?" 

Warren had been brooding, gazing 
at the fire in the fireplace, snapping 
and cracking, a many-hued fire burn- 
ing off salts and minerals of dried wood 
scavenged from the beach. He sound- 



ed very tired when he spoke now. "The 
Renaissance came about because 
people had used up all the resources 
they had available to them; they were 
desperate (or better ways to farm, to 
make clothing, to warm themselves. 
Better ways to survive. They had to in- 
vent the Renaissance. It had nothing to 
do with plague." 

I realized that they had had this 
conversation before; neither was say- 
ing anything the other had not already 
heard. I stood up. 

"Are you going to tell me what 
you're doing in your lab?" 

Greg looked blank, and Warren 
shook his head. "Same old stuff," he 
said after a long pause. "Just the same 
old stuff." 

If it was just the same old stuff — arti- 
ficial blood, whole blood transfusions 
work they had been publishing for 
years — why had they both become so 
old? Why were they both terrified? Why 
had Warren stopped talking about his 
work altogether, and refused to talk 
about it when I brought it up? 

Greg got up abruptly and went to 
bed, and Warren shook his head when 
I asked him again what they were 
doing. "Go on to bed," he said. "I'll just 
be a few minutes." 

What do you do if your husband 



holds the agent to destroy half the 
human race? You try not to know it; you 
don't demand answers; you go to bed. 

A gale has arrived finally. Now the 
trees are thrashing, and the broom is 
whipping about furiously, making its 
own eerie shrieking sound, and the rain 
is so hard it's as if the sea has come up 
here and is 1 raging against the car, 
pushing, pushing. I am getting very 
cold and think how strange that I was 
so reluctant to turn on the motor, use 
the heater. I can hardly even hear the 
engine when it starts, and as soon as I 
lift my foot from the accelerator, I can't 
hear it at all. 

Greg's wife took her two children 
and ran when she learned. I wonder if 
that is why Warren refused to tell me 
anything for so long. 

In the past two years Warren be- 
came a stranger to us, his family. We 
saw him rarely, and only when he was 
so fatigued he could hardly stay awake 
long enough to eat, to bathe, I didn't 
see Greg at all after that day at the 
coast, not until two weeks ago. 

Warren came home late. I was al- 
ready undressed for bed, in my robe. 
He was so pale he looked very ill. "I 
blew the whistle," he said, standing just 
inside the door, water running off his 
jacket, down his hands, down his face. 



I went to him and pulled the jacket off 
his shoulders. "It's going to be out of 
our hands by tomorrow," he said, and 
walked stiffly into the living room to sit 
on the sofa. 

I hurried to the bathroom and came 
back with a towel, sat. beside him, and 
began to dry his hair, his face. 

"Will you tell me about it now?" 

He told me. They had found a viroid 
that had an affinity for some blood 
groups, he said. Not even a whole 
virus, not a killed virus, a piece of a 
virus, They had combined it with the O 
group first and nothing happened, but 
when they then combined the blood 
with A blood, the viroid changed, it be- 
came whole, replicative, and the A 
blood was destroyed, consumed. He 
said it in a monotone, almost absently, 
as if it were of no real consequence, 
after all. And then he buried his face in 
his hands and cried. 

Forty-five percent of Caucasians 
have A-group blood; five percent have 
AB. Thirty percent of Blacks have A or 
AB. Thirty percent of Amerinds have A 
or AB. . . . And the virus they created 
could destroy all of them. 

I held him as he wept and the words 
tumbled incoherently. They would both 
go to Atlanta, he said that night, he and 
Greg, and someone would come to 







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oversee the packing of the material, 
the decontamination of the. lab. 

"Greg came in while I was on the 
phone," he said at some point. "He 
tried to stop me. I hit him, God, I hit 
him, knocked him down! I took him 
home and we talked it over." 

"Does he agree, then?" 

"Yes," he said tiredly. "it was like hit- 
ting your father, your god." 

"Why didn't you stop when you 
knew what it was?" 

"We couldn't," he said. He was as 
pale as death, with red-rimmed eyes, a 
haunted look. "If we did it, then so will 
someone else, if they haven't already. 
. We kept trying to find an out, an anti- 
dote, a cure, something." 

We were stili on the sofa side by 
side. He drew away from me and got to 
his feet, an old man laboriously risings 
he staggered when he started to walk. 
"I need a drink." 

I followed him to the kitchen and 
watched him pour bourbon into a glass 
and drink it down. If he and Greg 
couldn't find the cure, I was thinking, 
then who could? They were the best in 
the field. 

I keep thinking of what Greg said 
that day on the coast: The plague killed 
off one-third to half the population of 
Europe, the same numbers that make 



up the A, the AB, the AO blood groups. 
And out of that horror, he thought, had 
come the Renaissance. 

I know so much more about blood 
groups and complexes now than I did 
two weeks ago; I put in a period of 
cramming, as if for an examination. I 
am in the A group. Mikey is AO. Warren 
is O. Sandra is A, and Chris is O. 

I drove Warren to the lab the next 
morning, where we were met by a mid- 
dle-aged man who introduced himself 
to Warren and ignored me: They went 
inside without a backward glance. 
When they were out of sight, Greg ap- 
peared, coming from the corner of the 
brick building, walking toward me. He 
had a Band-Aid on his jaw; Warren had 
one on his middle knuckle. 

"At the last minute," Greg said, "I 
found I didn't want to see anyone, not 
Warren, not the hot-shot epidemiolo- 
gist. Just tell Warren I'm taking off for a 
few days' rest, will you?" 

I nodded, and he turned and 
walked away, old, old, defeated, sag- 
ging shoulders, slouching walk, his hair 
down over the collar of a faded gray 
ski jacket that gleamed with rain, 
sneakers squishing through puddles. 

Such a clear picture of him, I mar- 
vel, coming wide awake again. The car 
is much too warm now: it has a very ef- 




ficien neater. I want to sink bac< down 
into dreams, but instead I force myself 
up straighter in order to reach the key, 
to turn off the ignition: My hand feels 
encased in lead. 

I packed for Warren and later that 
day he dashed in, brushed my cheek 
with his lips, snatched up his bag, and 
ran out again. He would call, he said, 
and he did several times, but never 
with anything real to say. I was as 
guarded on the phone as he was. Any- 
thing new? i asked, and he said no, 
same old stuff. I clutched the phone 
harder and talked about the children, 
about the rain, about nothing. 

I did the things I always did: I 
braided Sandra's hair, and made Mikey 
do his homework; I talked to my own 
class about The Canterbury Tales; I 
shopped and made dinners; I washed 
my hair and shaved my legs, . , . Mikey 
had a cold and Chris caught it, and I 
was headachy and dull feeling. Late 
fall things, I told Warren over the 
phone. He said it was rather warm in 
Atlanta and sunny. And, he said tiredly, 
he would be on the seven-o'clock flight 
due in Portland on Friday. We made 
soft thankful noises at each other; I had 
tears in my eyes when I hung up. 

Trish Oldhams called the following 
evening. She wanted Warren and when 
1 said he was out of town, there was a 
long pause. 

"What is it, -Trish? Anything I carv 
do?" I hoped it was nothing; my 
headache was worse and now I was 
afraid it was flu, not simply a cold. 

"It's Greg," she said at last, "I was 
going to ask Warren to go check on 
him. He called, and he sounded ... 1 
don't know, just strange." 

"What do you mean, strange?" 

"He said he wanted to tell me good- 
bye," she said in a low voice. "I , . . is 
he sick?" 

"Not that I know. I'll drop in on him 
and call you back. Okay?" 

Time is a muddle for me now. I can't 
remember when Trish called, but I 
didn't call her back. I found Greg load- 
ing boxes into his truck that he had 
backed up partway into the garage. 
His house was surrounded by unkempt 
gardens and bushes and a lot of trees, 
two or three acres that he ignored. 
Trish used to maintain it all. I remember 
thinking what a wilderness he had let it 
become. 

"What are you doing here?" he de- 
manded, when I stopped behind his 
truck and got out of my car. 

"Trish called. She's worried about 
you." 

"You're shivering. Come on inside." 

The inside was a shambles, things 
strewn about, drawers open, boxes 



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everywhere. He led me to the ktchen 
where it was more of the. same. The 
table was piled high with books and 
notebooks; others were on the floor, on 
chairs. 

"Sit down," he said. "You're shaking, 
you're so cold." He poured us both 
whiskey with a drop of water, and he 
sat opposite me, with the piles of stuff 
between us. "Irish," he said after a mo- 
ment. "I shouldn't have called her, I 
guess. She was surprised. I made. her 
leave, you know." 

I shook my head. "Why?" 

"Because I was dangerous for her 
and the boys," he said, gazing past 
me. "A menace to her. I told her that 
and she would have hung on, but I told 
her I was a menace to the boys, too, 
and she left, just like I knew she 
would." 

"I don't understand what you're say- 
ing." My glass rattled against the table 
when I tried to put it down, He took it 
and refilled it. 

"I'm contaminated," he said. "Four, 
five years ago I nicked myself in the 
lab and got some of the viroio material 
in the cut. We thought I would die, War- 
ren and I thought that, but as you can 
see. . . ." He drained his glass and put 
it down hard. "But it's there, the viroid, 
waiting to meet up with A-type blood, 



fulfill its destiny. Trish is A, and the boys 
are AO. It was just a matter of time be- 
fore som'ething happened, no matter 
how careful I was. I sent her away." 

It is all muddled. He said he would 
not be a guinea pig, live in quarantine. 
No one knew about him yet, but he 
would tell them soon. He had made 
Warren promise to let him tell them in 
his own time, his own way. I was drink- 
ing his liquor and having trouble follow- 
ing his words, but I finally had become 
warm, and even drowsy as he talked 
on. He couldn't infect me, he said, dri- 
ving me home, and Warren was all 
right. I was safe. He insisted that I 
couldn't drive, and he called a cab to 
return home afterward. Blood contact 
was necessary he said, between a 
contaminated O and anyone else. 
Alone, the viroid was inert. And the 
virus? I asked. "Oh, that," he said 
grimly. "That's one of the things they'll 
be finding out in Atlanta. We, Warren 
and I, think it might be passed by any 
contact, or it could be airborne. They'll 
find out." 

Today, Friday. I braided Sandra's 
hair and made Mikey brush his teeth, 
and told Chris that he couldn't go to a 
football game after school, not with his 
cold. Sandra was sneezing. I dragged 
into my one class, and then a commit- 




tee meeting, and a late lunch with my 
friend Dora who told me to go home 
and to bed because I looked like hell. I 
felt like hell, I admitted, but I had to go 
to Portland to meet Warren. I wanted to 
go early enough to miss the traffic rush. 
I would have a snack in the restaurant 
and read and wait for his plane. 

I heard the news bulletin on the car 
radio. Dr. Gregory Oldhams had died 
in a fire at his house. There were no de- 
tails. I pulled off the road onto the 
shoulder and stared ahead through 
tears. He had called Trish to tell her 
goodbye. He had packed up things he 
couldn't bear to have burned. A guinea 
pig, live in quarantine, in isolation, his 
own time, his own way. . . . 

Lights have come on in the house 
across the ravine. They are looking for 
me; Warren must have told them this is 
where I would come. Home. 1 wonder if 
he is with them; if he is, he may think to 
come up here. I rather Imagine that 
they have him in a high-security lab 
somewhere, drawing blood, testing it, 
or packaging it to send to Atlanta. 

They may send him back, He will be 
so tired. Would I scream at him if we 
met now? Probably, and he doesn't 
need it; he knows, and he will know for 
the rest of his life. If we met, and if I 
had a gun, would I shoot him? I can 
imagine doing it, and I would want to 
do it, but would I? 

Warren's plane was going to be an 
hour late. It was five when I got inside 
the terminal; three hours stretched like 
eternity. I was too tired to do more than 
buy a book and a newspaper and then 
find a place where I could sit in peace. 
No food, I thought, shivering again. Or- 
ange juice. I sat in the restaurant think- 
ing about Greg, about yesterday, how 
he had driven me home. What he had 
said. Blood contact between an O and 
anyone else, airborne possibly after an 
A became infected. I remembered the 
Band-Aid on his chin, another Band- 
Aid on Warren's knuckle. How Warren 
had wept, not because of the work, but 
because he had struck Greg, his men- 
tor, his father, his god. 

I knocked over my orange juice 
when I attempted to lift the glass, and I 
stared at the spreading pool until the 
waitress's voice made me start. "You 
want another one?" she asked. 

I fled to the restroom and studied 
my face in the mirror. Bloodless. It's the 
flu, I told myself. Just the flu. My fingers 
were tinged with blue under my finger- 
nails, my palms were drained of color. 

I know I talked to someone in At- 
lanta, but I can't remember how it 
came about. There's a vague memory 
of someone else punching numbers 
from my credit card. I must have asked 




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for help. I had to go through so many 
people, wait so long before someone 
who knew something came on the line. 
"Is It airborne?" I asked, and he had 
many questions, which I must have an- 
swered. He kept asking, "Are you 
there? Are you all right? Can you hear 
me?" I know he said, "Stay right where 
you are. Don't move from the phone. 
We'll send someone to help you." 

Why didn't I wait for Warren? I 
should have waited for him, but I didn't, 
and then I remember, they would have 
come for me, and someone else would 
have met him and taken him some- 
where. I think of all the people I was 
with in the restaurant, in the lounge, in 
the vast waiting room, buying a news- 
paper, a book, the shop where I bough' 
the tape recorder I'm using, just walk- 
ing around, in the parking lot. ... I for 
got to tell the voice on the phone that 
had stopped to buy gas, another con- 
tact. 

I had to leave the phone because 
someone else wanted to use it, an 
angry man who told me to move my 
ass. I walked away from the phone and 
I stopped to buy the tape recorder, and 
then I kept walking, out to the lot, to my 
car, and I drove here. That much is 
clear in my head. As long as I don't try 
to move, or lift anything, I don't even 

68 OMNI 



feel too bad, just so tired, and so 

heavy. The oddest thing is the lack of 
coordination in my hands. I fumble with 
things, drop them; I can't even manage 
the key in the ignition any longer. 

I told the man how it happened. 
Warren got the viroid when he hit Greg. 
He used my razor the next morning 
and I used it later; we both always nick 
ourselves shaving. So simple. 

They will spread their nets and try to 
catch everyone who was in the airport 
this evening, people flying off to Den- 
ver, Chicago, England, Hawaii. . . . 
They will scoop up everyone at school, 
all my classes, my friends, committee 
members. My children. 

I can't weep now. I must be dehy- 
drating too much. At first I thought 
Greg's way would be mine. I would 
drive to my old house and arrange a 
great fire and at the last minute set it 
off, but I won't burn myself. They'll want 
to know what damage was done; they 
may even find a clue to help someone. 
Or maybe, without even thinking it 
through, I realized they would come to 
the house. The house lights appear to 
be dancing through waves of water. 
The storm is so intense now my voice 
sounds faint to my own ears. I don't 
even know how much I've said for the 
tape recorder, how much I have 



dreamed. The'dreams are more real 
than reality. The car rocks, and the 
trees thrash about. I wish I could see 
them, but it's enough to know they've 
seen this before many times, Maybe 
they like it as much as 1 do. 

"Can we sleep in the loft, Mom?" 
Mikey yelled, racing to the stairs. 

"Well, sure. That's where I slept. 
Good enough for me, good enough for 
you." 

I shooed them all ahead of me and 
lay down on the built-in bed. "Look, ff 
you put your head right here, as soon 
as the moon reaches. that tallest fir tree, 
the shadow of the tree will come in and 
kiss you good night." 

Chris snorted in disbelief, but San- 
dra and Mikey lunged for the right 
spot, which I quickly vacated. Reluc- 
tantly Chris stayed close enough to see 
if it would really happen. 

Later, Warren and I listened to them 
giggling and playing overhead. "Re- 
member?" I asked. "You gave in and 
said okay to one." 

There was a thump and silence and. 
we both tensed, then renewed giggling 
floated down, and we relaxed. My legs 
were cramping from the position we 
were in, but I didn't tell him. I closed 
my eyes and listened to the laughing 
children .DO 



H Stellar Adventure of Mystery and Intrigue. Warfare and Diplomacy. 

Welcome WM. to a unique universe of exploration, warfare, ng-— 

diplomacy and mystery, Change strategies as quichlg as your 

mood in deciding whether to flghi, trade, or to simply let the 

storyline Me you on an incredible journey. It's possible to 

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views, digitized voices, and an engaging sense 1 



Alien races, represented by over ISO 
fully animated Hens, each with 
tbeir own language, personality, 
physical characteristics, and 
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in an interactive adventure. 






GAMETEK EVPYRUS 



inJTERVIEUU 



"I'M NOT CLAIMING ANY MAGIC FOR 

MACHINES," SAYS THE 

GRANDDADDY OF At. "ALL I CLAIM 

IS THAT THEY CAN THINK." 



HERBERT A, 




January 1956: 
Ike was in his 
first term in the 
White House and elec- 
tric typewriters were a 
luxury when Herbert 
Simon strolled into a 
mathematical-model- 
ing class he was teach- 
ing at Pittsburgh's Car- 
negie Tech and an- 
nounced he'd built a 
machine that could 
think. Simon, with two 
colleagues, had creat- 
ed what is now regard- 
ed as the first artificial- 
intelligence (Al) pro- 
gram. In finding proofs 
for logical theorems, it 
automated a task that 
hitherto only human 
logicians had been 
smart enough to per- 
form. But to the future 
Nobel laureate, his 
program's most impor- 
tant proof was some- 
thing far grander: proof 
the human brain wasn't 
so special after all. 

Still teaching at what 
is now Carnegie-Mellon 
University, Simon is an 
academic jack-of-all- 
trades: computer and 



social scientist, cog- 
nitive psychologist, and 
philosopher, To Ed- 
ward Feigenbaum, an 
Al pioneer at Stanford 
University, "Herb Simon 
is first and foremost a 
behavioral scientist. His 
genius lies in cutting 
through the immense 
complexities of human 
behavior to build ele- 
gantly simple models 
that work, that explain 
the data, He might well 
be the greatest behav- 
ioral scientist of the 
twentieth century." 

Fast talking and 
combative at 77, Simon 
remains an unapolo- 
getic "left winger" in the 
Al world he helped 
found. Brusque to the 
point of arrogance, he 
insists that everything a 
brain does can be ade- 
quately explained in 
term's of information 
processing. A comput- 
er, he argues (and 
Simon argues a lot), 
could do these things 
just as well. 

Herb Simon has al- 
ways argued. His first 



PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROB CLARK 




pi..ij catior. ic n r a:.ls scnco 1 . ^as a letter :o the editor in 
the Milwaukee Journal defending atheism. A civil 
libertarian and New Deal Democrat, he's been known to 
dampen conversations at dinner parties by asking guests 
whether they'd prefer having real children or disease- 
resistant Al programs that were otherwise identical. He 
doesn't take criticism well, he confesses, nor is he 
gracious in defeat — the sort of chess player who'll lose a 
game, then tell his opponent the next day he'd have won 
butforasingle move. 

Until the mid Fifties, Simon was an economist and 
■political scientist. His 1978 Nobel Prize was in econom- 
ics. He helped push conventional economics beyond 
neat (and accurate) supply-and-demand charts and 
toward the real-world complexity of psychology and 
behavioral science. His theory of "bounded rationality" 
subverted the classical view that organizations always 
make decisions that maximize profits and that, more 
broadly, individuals always pick the best choice among 



merely means tc an end — unde-stend-ia; now a brain 
can think. 

For his first interview with Omni's Doug Stewart, Simon 
wore a crisp blue Mao jacket, a souvenir of a trip to 
China. A self-confident man, he is voluble and unre- 
pentant about his many past pronouncements. To any- 
one who would challenge his assertion that creativity can 
be automated, he points to his office walls which are 
dressed up with computer-made figure drawings. 
Although he evidently admires the drawings, he also 
finds them useful as exhibits A, B, and C when making 
his case to skeptical visitors. 

Omni: So you believe computers think? 
Simon: My computers think all the time. They've been 
thinking since 1955 when we wrote the first program to 
get a computer to solve a problem by searching 

selectively through a mass of possibilities, which we think 
is the basis for human thinking. This program, called the 



VOCATION: BEST-KNOWN 

^MHiMMiBf lUl Cognitive psychologist, CREATIONS: 

■ -$T " ____-____. computer scientist, Theory or bounded 

sociologist, philosopher rationality and 

H HIGHEST HONOR: 

&? ^^M NobelPrizein ON COMPUTERS: 

^ ■' ""X A ^S3KJr MOST DISDAINED It's going to be easier to 
^^^^ ADVERSARIES: simulate professors 

1 Armchair thenrret'; than hnllrtriTOr HriMsrc 





s alternatives. Instead, he observed, people are 
saddled with too much information and not enough brain 
power. As a result, whether setting prices or playing 
chess, they settle for the first choice that's "good 
enough." In Darwinian terms, it's survival of the fitter. 

Despite Simon's nominal shift to Al and cognitive 
science 40 years ago, the central question underlying all 
of his research has never changed: How do people make 
decisions? His explorations of how people wade through 
a mass of information by making a series of split-second 
dec sions, like a person playing Twenty Questions, led 
him logically to computers. What tool could better test his 
theories than programs that mimicked a human's search- 
and-select strategies? 

Unlike many of his peers, Simon isn't interested in 
electronic superbrains. The human brain is obviously 
limited in how fast and how capably it can handle in- 
fernal on. So Simon scrupulously builds into his artificial 
systems those same limitations. Computers for him are 



Logic Theorist, would discover proofs for a theorem. We 
picked theorems from Whitehead and Russell's 
foundation work in logic, Principle Mathematica, because 
it happened to be on my shelf. To prove ; a theorem, a 
human mathematician will start with axioms and use them 
to search for a proof. The Logic Theorist did quite a 
similar search, we think, to end up with a proof — when it 
was lucky. There were no guarantees it would find one, 
but there are none for the human logician either. 

A year or two later, we embodied these ideas in the 
General Problem Solver, which wasn't limited to logic. 
Given a problem like, "How do I get to the airport?" it 
starts with, "What's the difference between where I want 
to be and where I am now? That's a difference in 
location, one of 20 miles. What tools do I know that 
reduce differences like that? You can ride a bike, take a 
helicopter or taxi. If I pick a taxi, how do I find one?" 
Again, GPS asks, "How do you get taxis? You telephone 
them." And soon. 



Every time you set up a problem, it 
thinks of some method, or tool already 
stored in memory that can remove the 
difference between where it is and 
where it wants to be. Each tool requires 
that certain conditions be met before 
that tool can be applied, so it then 
searches its memory for a tool for 
doing that. Eventually, it finds one it 
can apply: You call the taxi, it comes, 
you get in it, and the first thing you 
know you're delivered to the airport. 
Notice GPS doesn't try everything — not 
walking or a helicopter. It knows all 
sorts of things about walking or heli- 
copters that help it decide they don't 
work in this situation. 
' Omni: Did you tell Bertrand Russell, 
PrinciDis's surviving author, what you 



had done with Logic Theorist? 
Simon: Yes, and he wrote back that if 
we'd told him this earlier, he and White- 
head could have saved ten years of 
their lives. He seemed amused and, I 
think, pleased. 

Omni- Wouldn't most people feel de- 
meaned that a computer — a primitive 
one by today's standards — could do 
what they'd devoted ten years of their 
lives to? 

Simon: You know, sometimes I feel ter- 
ribly demeaned that a horse can run so 
much faster than I can. But we've 
known for a long time that there are 
creatures bigger, stronger, and faster 
than we are, 

Omni: But Pnncipia Mathematica was a 
celebrated cerebral accomplisnmeoL 



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nothing like an animal's brawn! 
Simon: It's true that thinking seems a 
peculiarly human capability, one we're 
proud of. Cats and dogs think, but they 
think little thoughts. Why should it be 
demeaning to us to try to understand 
how we do something?.That's what 
we're really after. Hows thinking done? 
The farther we go in understanding 
ourselves, the better off we are. 

Still, peopte feel threatened when- 
ever the uniqueness of the human 
species is challenged. These kinds of 
people made trouble for Copernicus 
and Galileo when they said the earth 
wasn't the center of the universe, for 
Darwin when he said maybe various 
species descended from a few ances- 
tors. I don't know that anybody's been 
hurt by our not being in the center of 
tine universe, although there are some 
who continue to lose sleep about Dar- 
win. We'll get used to the fact that 
thii'k'np. is explainable in natural terms 
just like the rest of our abilities. 
Omni: A program you worked on in the 
SeveT.es -ediafjcvorec Kepler's third 
law of motion. How? 
Simon: We called it BACON, in honor 
of Sir Francis, because it's inductive. 
Kepler in the seventeenth century fffiew 
the distances of the planets from the 
sun and their periods of revolution. He 
thought there ought to be a pattern to 
these numbers, and after ten years he 
found it. We gave BACON the same 
data and said look for the pattern. It 
saw that when the period got bigger, 
the distance got bigger. So it divided 
the two to see if the ratio might be con- 
stant. That didn't work, so it tried divid- 
ing the distance again. That didn't work 
either. But now it had two ratios and 
found that as one got larger, the other 
got smaller. So it tried multiplying 
these— maybe their product was a 
constant, And by golly, it was, In three 
tries, BACON got the answer, 
Omni: A lucky guess! 
Simon; It wasn't luck at all. BACON 
was very selective in what it looked at. 
If two quantities varied together, it 
looked at their ratio. If they varied in 
opposite directions, it looked at their 
product. Using these simple heuristics, 
or rules of thumb, it found that the 
square of a planet's period over the 
cube of its distance is a constant: Kep- 
ler's third law. Using those same tricks, 
BACON found Ohm's law of electrical 
resistance. It will invent concepts like 
voltage, index of refraction, specific 
heat, and other key new ideas of eight- 
eenth- and nineteenth-century physics 
and chemistry, although, of course, it 
doesn't know what to call them. 

This tells you that using a fairly sim- 
ple set of rules of thumb allows you to 



olicate many first-rank discoveries in 
ysics and chemistry. It thereby gives 
s an explanation, one that gets more* 
convincing every time BACON gives 
us another example, of how people 
ever made these discoveries. It gets 
rid of these genius theories and tells us 
this is a normal process. People have 
to be intelligent, but their discoveries 
are not bolts from the blue. 
Omni: Why are rules of thumb so im- 
portant tor computers and humans? 
Simon: Take something limited like a 
chessboard. Every time you make a 
move, you're choosing from maybe 20 
possibilities. If your opponent can 
make 20 replies, that's 400 possibili- 
ties. The 20 replies you can then make 
gets you 8,000 possible positions, 
Searching through 8,000 things is al- 
ready way beyond a human's limits, so 
you limit your search. You need rules to 
select which possibilities are good 
ones. To exhaust all the possibilities on 
a chessboard, a player would have to 
look at more positions than there are 
molecules in the universe. We have 
good evidence that grand masters sel- 
dom consider more than 100 possibili- 
ties at once. 

Omni- You and Allen Newell wrote the 
world's first chess program in the 
Fifties. How well did it play? 
Simon; Not well. Hubert Dreyfus, in his . 
book What Computers Can't Do, 
seemed pleased that it was beaten by 
a ten-year-old kid. A pretty bright one, I 
should add. Shortly after Dreyfus ob- 
served that, he was beaten by Green- 
blatt's machine at MIT, but that's a 
different story. Later in the Sixties, 
George Baylor and I built MATER, a 
program specializing in mating situa- 
tions, going in for the kill. Its criteria 
tested whether a given move was pow- 
erful and explored only those, never 
looking at more than 100 choices. 
Chess books report celebrated games 
where brilliant players made seemingly 
impossible mating combinations, look- 
ing eight or so moves deep. MATER 
found most of the same combinations. 
Omni: It had the same insight as the 
human champion, so to speak? 
Simon: You don't have to say "so to 
speak"! It had the same insight as a 
human player. We were testing whether 
we had a good understanding of how 
human grand masters select their 
moves in those situations. And we did. 
Omni: You talk about a string of serial 
decisions. Don't grand masters get a 
chessboard's gestalt by seeing its 
overall pattern? 

Simon; A Russian psychologist study- 
ing the eye movements of good chess 
players found that grand masters 
looked at all the important squares in 




A little help from Peak V s gives new meaning to follow-the-leader. 



the first five seconds and almost none 
of the unimportant ones. That's "getting 
a gestalt of a position." We wrote a little 
computer program that did this by fol- 
lowing a simple rule. For starters, it 
picked the biggest piece near the cen- 
ter of the chessboard, then the pro- 
gram found another piece it either 
attacked or defended. Then the pro- 
gram would focus on the second piece 
and repeat the process. Lo and be- 
hold, it quickly looked at all the impor- 
tant squares and none of the 
unimportant ones. Show me a situation 
where ordinary cue-response mecha- 
nisms — call them intuitions if you like — 
can't reproduce those gestalt 
phenomena! 

Omni: But can't good players see sev- 
eral pieces at a glance? 
Simon: Experiments on perception 
show'we take in all our visual informa- 
tion in a very narrow area. And there's 
something else: A colleague, Bill 
Chase, and I did experiments where 
we took the board of a well-played 
game after the twentieth move, say, 
and let chess players look at it for five 
seconds. A grand master will repro- 
duce the board almost perfectly, 
maybe 24 or 25 pieces correct. A 
weekend player will get six or seven 
correct. You say, "Grand masters have 



grea- v sion, don't they?" 

Now put the same 25 pieces on the 
board but completely at random, with 
no regard for the rules of chess. Again, 
the ordinary player puts six or seven 
pieces back. This time, the grand mas- 
ter puts six or seven pieces back, 
maybe one more. Clearly, what the 
grand master is seeing isn't pieces, but 
familiar patterns of pieces — Fian- 
chetto's castlecl-k ng posi". on or what- 
ever. It's an act of recognition, just as 
you'd recognize your mother coming 
down the street. And with that recogni- 
tion comes ; all sorts of information. 

A grand master can play chess with 
50 patzers, moving from board to 
board every few seconds, and at the 
end of the evening, he's won 48 of the 
games. How? He doesn't have time to 
look ahead, so he looks for cues. He 
plays ordinary opening moves, hardly 
looking at the board until he notices an 
opponent has created ; e 
knows is an error. He recognizes it as a 
feature on the chessboard, jusi ~ a 
doctor sees a symptom and says. "Oh. 
you've got the measles." The grand 
mas:e-' says, "A c!0-„:: -e-: .:,- " -^:- " 
bad trouble." 

Omni: You've argued that empirical 
knowledge, not theoretical postulates, 
must guide computer-sysiem design. 

CONTINUED ON PAGE87 75 




ARJTIfMATTER 

UFO UPDATE: 

To follow their stars, SETI researchers have found that 
they must seek a pot of gold 



— „run for Extraterrestrial Intelligence ( 
scientists train radio telescopes on "~ ~ 
ing to pick up signs'- *- 
away. But in Octob 
plug on SETI funding, • 



-."it private donors, giving agency re- 

rchers hope that at least some of their programs 
.,„ survive. Other SETI researchers have h ' 

uch luck, however, and are scrambling for r. 

o their projects can go on. 
The NASA program, saved 



years largely to buili 
pick up messages f 
drew federal f 



test hardware desigi 



JPL," says Mike Klein, progr; 
" " nager for the Sky Survey, 
npt to survey the sky on n 



- SETI Institute, a 

nonprofit organization J - 

,: chforsigr-'- 



viewed as a crucial comp 
to the highly targeted NASA ef- 
id and wide-rang- 
im, Klein laments, 
has been stopped in its tracks. 



"he funds, adds 
; — x "_ by Wil- 



vlett- Packard Cor- 
'don Moore, co- 
founder and chairman of the 
Intel Corporation; and Paul Allen, 
co-founder of Microsoft Corpora- 
nong a number of others. 
„ NASA program, renamed 
nix because it has risen 



1/ program will be able 
. __-.cn just about half as many stars as had previ- 
ously been planned by scientists behind the effort. 
. Once con- 



, requires just $60,000 a 

■■'■■"" '■■'-'■" "mail sum by 

one point, 

.,.-... _m SERENDIP on 

a $20,000 gift from his mot! 
But if Proj— *-'" ' ; :: -" 1 - ! -~ 
''■"." ■ j find somi 

be benched for good, 
clearly worried. He could get by on I 
■ar, of cour: 
ing that puts the touch c 
3. "If you have a Christmas card list," he 
says, "send it to me." 



just a shame. "It's analogous to Isabella an 
Ferdinand financing the Nina, Pinta, and Sani 
Maria," he says, "and then once the ships were built, 
telling Columbus that times were tight and they were 
going to mothball the fleet."— PAUL MCCARTHY 



AfUTinnATTER 



SPY DUMMIES 



Well, it r 

right back at you — * 



Anne Droid manne- 

manufactured by F. 
rrv Gutierrez of Denver, 



ployees. Whatever a 



relayed by cable 
to a monitor for re- 



stores to catch shoplifters 



Human figures are the 
ideal, he adds, but the 
surveillance systems can 



i be fitted into manne- 
I quin dogs, cats, or other 
objects "as long as 
it has an eyeball" with a 
If-inch iris. 
■ What if you can't afford 
the $2,400 to $5,000 
price tag f 



about $1,800. Moreover, 



| fordth.., 

nt to look as if they 
have Anne Droid can bu\ 
"blind installation" — fake 
look-alike eyes for about 
$60- Put 



'VEILLANCE 
: ,, L1 v.SCANBEF[T 
INTO MANNEQUINS 
OF PEOPLE, CATS nc 



University of Colorado 
"/chiatrist Gordon 

jrveillance 



STAR-STRUCK 
STOCKS 

. 1 to make a killing 

on Wall Street? Try 
looking to the stars, sug- 
— 3ts New York com- 
idity trader Henry 

I Weingarten. 

| To pick financial win- 



the stock markets horo- 
| scope every day and 
t the stars 
portend for the nation. 
He sometimes charts 
the astrology of an indi- 
vidual stock, along with 
the CEO's horoscope. 
Although he won't re- 
specific figures, 
ugarten insists this 
gazing h 
I duced resounding sue- 



old Astrologer's Fun< 
"Using astrology, ' 
can make predictions," 
says Weingarten. In 
1992 he warned of i 
coming natural i" 



stock market. He a 
correctly foi 
of 1 993, that gold prk 
would soar within days. 

Few Wall Street insid- 
ers will publicly admit 
that they take astrologi- 
cal predictions seriously, 
Weingarten says. But 
that may change: Ac- 
cording to Weingarten, 
last year's Astrologer's 
Fund conference held in 
New York attracted fi- 



"I don't believe in 
astrology," notes C 
Meyers, first vice | 
dent of im 
at Robin 
in Atlanta, "but t 




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BIRDS FIRSTS 



iciogisi;- l.ielievf; 'fishers ciginaicd as 
scales that elongated and acquired 
their fluffy structure gradually. But be- 
cause feathers fossilize so rarely, we 
have very little hard evidence of how 
they might have evolved. The earliest 
unquestioned feather traces of any 
kind are found with Archaeopteryx, and 
they're already perfectly formed, mod- 
ern-looking feathers; there was nothing 
primitive about them. We can guess 
that early dino-birds acquired long. 
thin, flat scales— the hypothetical first 
stage of feather evolution that I call 
"prefeaihers" — shortly after the ptero- 
saurs branched off, since pterosaurs 
didn't have such structures. 

Prefeaihers would have had many 
uses to a small, agile tree dweller. They 
would have helped to break falls, like 
little parachutes, and they could have 
carried colorful patterns that might 
have been used for signaling during 
courtship and mating: species "identifi- 
cation badges," like the wing and lail 
feathers of today's birds. Like the 
fletching on the rear of an arrow, these 
feathers would have been particularly 
effective arranged along the tail, the 

30 OMNI 



be:;: place :o provide oaance. direc- 
tion, and a slight amount of lift for a 
small, wingless dino-bird taking long 
leaps between trees. ArchaeoptGryx 
had a beautiful series of such feathers 
on its tail, still useful more than 50 mil- 
lion years after it first evolved. We can 
call a hypothc-i'cal dir.c-bird equipped 
with such a fringe of tail prefeaihers a 
"tail glider." 

One fossil of what may have been a 
tail glider has already been discov- 
ered. From the Middle Triassic of 
Spain. Cosesaurus was a Ifghtiy built, 
birdlike, c^" aps sem sect, animal 
about seven inches long, with short 
arms but long hind legs. It probably 
■£:;:■;::"': e^ainer; arranged hori- 
zontally along its long tail. Unfortu- 
nately, their traces are very faint, and 
many skeptics consider them to be ar- 
tifacts of fossillzation or the described 
imagination, not real features. Never- 
theless, I believe that minute examina- 
tion of the Cosesaurus specimen, of 
the kind lavished by BADD paleontolo- 
gists on the Archaeopteryx specimen;;, 
will confirm it as a dino-bird, 

Megalancosaurus, a more ad- 
vanced dino-bird, was briefly de- 
scribed in 1980 from the Late TfiaSsJC 
of Italy. Like Cosesaurus, it was a small 
animal 7 to 15 inches long. Its arms 



were long, with huge five-digit hands 
endowed with prominent claws, perfect 
for tree climbing. The first two digits 
pointed opposite to the other three, a 
clear adaptation for grasping. Mega- 
lancosaurus likely climbed along 
branches with all four limbs verlical, 
like a monkey. Indeed, new Megalan- 
cosaurus specimens just described 
show thai it and related dino-birds 
even had ribbonlike prehensile tails 
lhat ended in a little hook. 

No feather or prefeather impres- 
sions were preserved with the Mega- 
lancosaurus specimens, but another 
similar-sized archosaur, Longisquan'a 
from the Late Triassic of Russia, shows 
wonderful impressions of very long 
prefeaihers, which had a thickened 
central ridge like the spine of a modern 
feather, Longisquama even had a wish- 
bone like that of Archaeopteryxl lis 
longest prefeaihers were arranged ele- 
gantly in a double row along the back, 
and some paleontologists suggest that 
it could have lowered them horizontally 
to serve as gliding wings. 

None of these three archosaurs fits 
into the BADD theory, BADD dinosaur- 
ologists view them as curiosities or ar- 
chosaurian side branches, having Ifttle 
to do with avian ancestry or with dino- 
saurs. But in my BCF theory, they as- 



surne paramount importance. Their 
very existence calls the entire BADD 
theory into question, so we should 
study them in great detail, and we 
should also try to find more specimens 
like them from the Triassic Period. In 
the BCF theory, Cosesaurus, Megalan- 
cosaurus, and Longisquama are all 
dino-birds on little side branches very 
close to the central dino-bird lineage. 

Although most dino-birds were in- 
sectivores, like numerous present-day 
birds, at least one lineage discovered 
plant food, perhaps the seed cones of 
the coniferous trees they lived in. Plant- 
eating represents a major lifestyle 
change for predatory or insectivorous 
vertebrates, radically altering their 
teeth and jaw mechanics, dlges$ve 
systems, and behavior patterns. Plants, 
however, are easier to catch than ani- 
mals, which may be why a not particu- 
larly well-adapted predator might start 
to consume them. Plant-eating did not 
often evolve among predators and in- 
sectivores, but when it did, it opened 
up a wide range of previously unavail- 
able lifestyles. Since plants exist virtu- 
ally everywhere, there are many more 
ways to be a plant eater than to be a 
predator, and many different groups of 
plant eaters can evolve from a single 
common ancestor. 



The first plant-eating dino-bird, a 
long-necked, large-eyed, lemur-like ar- 
chosaur 'with a body a couple of feet 
long, developed grasping hands with 
big thumbs specialized tor climbing 
trees and plucking plant matter to eat. 
It was probably covered wih prefeath- 
ers along the neck, flanks, back, and 
tail. Its arms were mobile and muscu : 
lar. When forced to travel on the 
ground, these plant eaters could have 
used their forelimbs for walking — 
something that today's tree-dwelling 
great apes do — but it would have tend- 
ed to rely more on its longer, stronger, 
more vertical hind limbs. 

This hypothetical plant eater 
branched off from the dino-b ; rd Pneage 
sometime during the Middle Triassic. 
Its ground-dwelling descendants were 
the plant-eating dinosaurs known as 
brontosaurs and ornithischians. The 
very long-necked brontosaurs stayed 
on all four legs and, as an extreme in- 
stance of Cope's Rule, evolved into the 
largest animals that ever walked the 
earth. The Bracbiosaurus of Jurassic 
Park was one such gentle giant. The 
ornithischians evolved into a more di- 
verse array of small to large dinosaurs, 
including the duck-billed dinosaurs, 
the horned dinosaurs (such as the sick 
Triceratops of Jurassic Park), the tank- 




I'ke ankyiosaurans, and tne bizarre, 
spiny-backed stegosaurians. Many or- 
nithischians walked and ran on just 
their hind legs; their forelimbs had be- 
come too specialized for walking. 

Indeed, that was the most peculiar 
thing about those particular ornithischi- 
ans as well as the Iheropod dinosaurs 
that evolved from the later dino-birds: 
They walked and ran on just two legs. 
Recall that Mesenosaurus was a small, 
lizardlike, sprawling, quadrupedal ani- 
mal. What would have compelled its 
descendants to stay up permanently 
on their hind legs when bipedality is so 
hazardous? How long, for example, 
could a bipedal animal get around with 
a broken leg? The BADD theory pro- 
vides no explanation. It would have us 
believe that bipedality just happened, 
quite naturally, to dinosaurs some- 
where along the line, 

In the BCF theory, however, bipedal- 
ity becomes, in and of itself, a com- 
pelling piece of evidence that the 
ancestors of dinosaurs must have 
spent a long time living in trees. Other- 
wise dinosaurs, like most of today's 
land mammals, would have all re- 
mained quadrupedal, and the holding 
and tearing functions of their forelimbs 
would have been fulfilled by other body 
parts, such as their jaws. Bipedal di- 
nosaurs became bipedal because their 
forelimbs were already modified for 
doing something other than walking— 
namely, climbing in trees, plucking 
cones and leaves, and even gliding 
through the air, This, by the way, is why 
we humans are bipedal: We, too, de- 
scended from tree-dwelling ancestors 
with grasping forelimbs too specialized 
for ordinary walking. 

As the dino-birds became better 
and better climbers and leapers, and 
their prefeathers became more and 
more featherlike in structure, their eye- 
sight, sense of balance, and hand-eye 
coordination greatly improved. Their 
leaps, propelled by long, strong hind 
legs, lengthened into glides, and 
midair control of the trajectory became 
ever more important. So the tail, with its 
stabilizing fringe of prefeathers. be- 
came more flexible at the base but stiff- 
ened toward the tip to act like a rudder. 
The prefeathers along the tail, thighs, 
and especially the forelimbs elongated, 
and the first short wings appeared. 

At this point in their evolution, the 
dino-birds' strong, erect hind legs, their 
light weight, their relatively huge, in- 
c'-eatirgly specialized hands and fore- 
limbs, and their improved sense of 
balance allowed them, when ground- 
ed, to avoid danger by sprinting biped- 
ally to the nearest tree and scaling it 
using all four limbs. As their forelimbs 



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ger, and the fourth finger shrank. These 
seemingly minor adaptations permitted 
the hand's long prefeathers to fan out 
into a true wing and also helped to de- 
fine and steady the evolving wing's 
leading edge. 

What we presently call theropods 
are the large, long-tailed, flightless, 
ground-dwelling archosaurs that arose 
on side branches at or above this point 
along the dino-bird lineage. They all 
looked a lot alike, making them difficult 
to sort into groups, of which paleontol- 
ogists now recognize no less than ten. 
This we might expect, because many 
of the changes that took place at this 
point in dino-bird evolution were no 
longer major body changes but fine- 
tuning of glioing ano flying abides. For 
example, in later gliding dino-birds, the 
first toe swung around to the back of 
the hind foot for grasping tree branch- 
es and perching. Another finger was 
lost, leaving only three in the hand. The 
joints in the arm altered, allowing the 
wing to fold up alongside the body out 
of the way when not in use. The breast- 
bone enlarged, to support powerful 
wing muscles. These changes are 
clearly improvements for flying, not for 
running or hunting. Yet all also are 
found among ground-dwelling there- 
pods that could not possibly have 
been fliers. 

The earliest theropods, of the Mid- 
dle to Late Triassic, were the size of 
roadrunners and even looked a bit like 
them, covered with colorful prefeathers 
or perhaps even fluffy feathers, and 
with stiffened tails sticking straight out 
as they chased down their prey. Too 
heavy for gliding, they would have 
used their four-fingered hands, 
equipped with sharply curved tree- 
climbing claws, to catch and tear up 
their kills; their arms were no longer 
useful as primitive wings. Following 
Cope's Rule, they evolved over time 
into larger forms, eventually replacing 
their I ess- advanced Thecodontian pre- 
decessors as the world's large preda- 
tors. Jurassic Park's overly fancy 
pc is was ac- 

tually one of those big, early, four-fin- 
gered theropods. And now, at last, you 
can see how the BCF theory solvss the 
wing problem described at the begin- 
ning of this article: The small arms of 
the large theropods evolved from 
wings, not into wings. 

As dino-birds perfected their flying 
abilities, they also improved their me- 
tabolism. They changed by stages 
from primitively hot-blooded animals 
into advanced hot-blooded animals. 
Each quantum-jump metabolic im- 



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provement in the little dino birds gener- 
ated a whole new set of theropod side 
branches, with their own giants, that re- 
placed the more primitive giant 
theropods that had evolved before. 
This is why the giant theropods of one 
period do not seem to be directly de- 
scended from the giant theropods of 
earlier periods. Such a-pattern of thero- 
pod dynasties signals that most oi the : r 
evolution was taking place among 
small, rapidly evolving forms rather 
than among larger, more slowly evolv- 
ing animals. And now you can see how 
the BCF theory solves the size prob- 
lem: Small birds never evolved from 
large theropods; it happened the other 
way around. 

By the end of the Jurassic Period, 
the dino-birds had evolved into flying 
animals that resembled AecheSOptSfgx. 
The large theropods of that time, such 
as the well-known Ceratosaurus and 
Allosaurus, were descended from ear- 
lier, more primitive dino-birds. "Ad- 
vanced" theropods, such as 
GaUimimus, Tyrannosaurus rex, and 
Vs:oc<>~apior, ■■.■vers si --illions ol years 
in the future, although their individual 
ancestral dino-birds had probably al- 
ready branched away from the central 
lineage by the time Archaeopteryx had 
appeared. And this is the answer to the 
time problem, why the most birdlike 
theropods occur later in the fossil 
record than Archaeopteryx: It took as 
many as 60 or 70 million years for the 
descendants of ArchaeopteryxWke 
dino-birds to evolve into giant, ad- 
vanced theropods such as T. rex. 

The original nineteenth-century sis- 
ter-group theory of dinosaur-bird rela- 
tionships posited that birds evolved 
independently of dinosaurs along a lin- 
eage of small, unknown reptiles that 
shared only a remote common ances- 
tor with them. The BADD theory ac- 
knowledges that birds and dinosaurs 
are much more closely related than 
that, but it fails to provide convincing 
arguments to support its central idea 
that birds are dinosaur descendants. 
My BCF theory turns this notion around 
and asserts thai the animals we know 
as dinosaurs were the flightless de- 
scendants of various kinds of dino- 
birds, among which were also the 
precursors of modern, flying birds. 
Looking at the relationship between 
birds and dinosaurs this way solves, in 
a clear and understandable way, puz- 
zling problems that the BADD theory 
ignores or overlooks. Although BCF is 
not yet a finished theory, it is compre- 
hensive, clean, and streamlined, and it 
is the closest we have yet come to cor- 
rectly describing the pattern in which 
archossus evolved ,DQ 



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VV'iy 9 VVnar's :he matter wi:h theory? 
Simon; It's claimed that you can't have 
an empirical computer science be- 
cause these are ani cial objects; there- 
fore, they're whatever you make them. 
That's not so. They're whatever you can 
make them. You build a system you 
hope has a certain behavior and see if 
it behaves that way. In computer sci- 
ence, ihe only way we'll know what as- 
sumptions to start with is through 
experience with many systems. Hu- 
mans are at their best when they inter- 
act with the real world and draw 
lessons from the bumps and bruises 
they get. 

Omni: Is this analogous to objections 
you voiced to classical economics 
early in your career? 
Simon: It certainly is. Economists have 
become so impressed with what math- 
ematics has done for physicists '.hat 
they spend much of their time building 
big mathematical models and worrying 
about their rigor. This work usually 
proves fruitless, because they're al- 
lowed to sit down in an armchair and 
put any kind of Crazy assumptions they 
want into those models. 

Not inconsequentially, I started out 
in political science, not economics. Po- 
litical scientists have a deep respect 
for facts — going out and observing, 
which I did a lot of. When I was 19, I 
did a study of how people working for 
the Milwaukee city government made 
budget decisions — how they chose be- 
tween planting trees and hiring a recre- 
ation director. That werk led to my 
Ph.D. thesis and first book, Administra- 
tive Behavior, in the late' Forties. 

Classical economic theory assumes 
that decision makers, whether groups 
or individuals, know everything about 
the world and use it all to calculate the 
optimal way to behave. Well, in the 
case of a firm, there are a zillion things 
that firm doesn't know about its envi- 
ronment, two zillion things it doesn't 
know about possible products or mar- 
keting methods that nobody's ever 
thought of, and more zillions of calcula- 
tions" it can't make, even if it had all the 
facts needed to dump Into the calcula- 
tions. This is a ridiculous view of what 
goes on. 

To go into a firm and evaluate the 
actual decision-making process, you 
must find out what information they 
have, choose to focus on, and how 
they actually process that information. 
That's what I've been doing all these 
years, That's why my Al work is a nat- 
ural continuation of what I did earlier in 



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economics. It's all an attempt to see 
how decision making works: first at the 
individual level — how is it possible to 
solve problems with an instrument like 
a human brain? — and at the group 
level, although I've never gotten back 
to that level. 

Omni. You've said human decision 
makers, instead of making the "best 
choice," always settle for "what's good 
enough." Even in choosing a spouse? 
Simon: Certainly. There are hundreds 
of millions of eligible women in the 
world at any given time. I don't know 
anybody who's gone the rounds before 
making the choice. As a result of expe- 
rience, you get an idea of which wo- 
' men will tolerate you and which women 
you will tolerate. I don't know how many 
women I looked at before I met my 
wife. I doubt it was even 1 ,000. By the 
way, I've stayed married for 56 years. 
Omni: Congratulations. Why did you 
shift from economics to Al and cogni- 
tive psychology? 

Simon: When I looked at the social sci- 
ences as fresh territory. They 
needed a good deal more 
rigor, so I studied applied 
mathematics and continued 
to study it even after I left the 
university. In economics, you 
can always turn prices and 
quantities into numbers, but 
how do you add rigor to con- 
cepts in political science like 
political power and natural 



you'll find neurons. You can use those recognize cues"" indexed to that knowl- 

things, either neurons or electromag- edge in particular situations. That lets 

netic fields, to represent any patterns you pull out the right knowledge at the 

you like. A computer could care less right time. The systems we built to sim- 

whether those patterns denote words, ulate scientific or any kind of creativity 

numbers, or pictures. Sure, in one are based on those principles, 

sense, there are bits inside a computer, Omni What about an artist's ability to 

but what's important is not that they create something beautiful? 

can do fast arithmetic but that they can Simon: Like a painting? Harold Cohen, 

manipulate symbols. That's how hu : an English painter at the University of 

mans can think, and that's the basic California at San Diego, wanted to un- 

hypothesis I operate from. derstand how he painted, so he tried 

Omni\ Are there decisions you'd never writing a computer program that could 

leave to a computer, even an ad- paint in an aesthetically acceptable 



I saw the limits of using 
tools like differential equations 
to describe human behavior. 
By chance, I'd had contact with com- 
puters almost from the time they were 
invented in the Forties, and they fasci- 
nated me. At a think tank on the West 
Coast, called the Rand Corporation in 
the early Fifties, I'd seen Allen Newell 
and Cliff Shaw using a computer to su- 
perimpose pictures of planes flying 
over a map. Here was a computer 
doing much more than cranking out 
numbers; it was manipulating symbols. 
To me, that sounded a lot like thinking. 
The idea that computers could be gen- 
eral-purpose problem solvers was a 
thunderclap for me. I could use them to 
deal with phenomena I wanted to talk 
about without turning to numbers. After 
that, ihere was no turning back. 
Omni: But beneath these symbolic rep- 
resentations, isn't a computer just 
crunching numbers? 
Simon: [loudly] No, of course the com- 
puter isn't! Open up the box of a com- 
puter, and you won't find any numbers 
in there. You'll find electromagnetic 
fields. Just as if you open up a person's 
brain case, you won't find symbols; 

38 OMNI 



vanced future machine? 
Simon: Provided I know how the com- 
puter is programmed, the answer is no. 
Years ago, when I flew a great deal, 
and particularly if I were landing at La 
Guardia on a bad day, I'd think, / hope 
there's a human pilot on board. Now, in 
lilar weather, I say, "I hope this is 



fashion. This program called AARON 
has gone through generations now. 
AARON today makes really smashing 
drawings. I've got a number of them 
around my house. It's now doing land- 
scapes in color with human figures in 
them [pulling a book from his shelf]. 
These were all done on the s 



being landed by a computer." Is that a day, a half hour apart. These figures 
switch of loyalty? No, just an estimate seem to be interacting with each other, 
that computers today have advanced Aren't they amazing? There's a small 
to the point where they can land planes random element in the program; other- 
wise, it would just keep 
reproducing the same 



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drawing. Clearly, Cohen 
has fed AARON a lot of in- 
formation about how to 

draw 



more reliably than humans. 
Omni: Would you let a computer be the 
jury in a criminal trial? 
Simon: Again, I'd want to know what 
that computer knew about the world, 
what kinds of things it was letting enter 
into its judgment, and how it was 
weighing evidence. As to whether a 
computer could be more accurate in 
judging a person's guilt, I don't lack 
confidence that it could be done. Stand- 
ardized tests like the Minnesota Mufti- 
phasic [Personality] Inventory can 
already make better predictions about 
people than humans can. We predict 
how well students will do at Carnegie- 
Mellon using their high-school test 
scores and grade-point averages. 
When you compare those predictions 
with the judgments after an interview, 
the tests win every time. 
Omni: Is creativity anything more than gard lesser composers as creative gen- 
problem-solving? iuses because we wouldn't be using 
Simon: I don't think so. What's involved Mozart as a comparison, 
in being creative? The ability to make As to whether a human being has to 
selective searches. For that, you first be tortured to make great art, I don't 
need knowledge and then the ability to know of any evidence that Picasso was 



:uch open space, don't 
distribute objects too even- 
ly, and so forth— whereas 
human artists have to learn 
these things on their own. 
The interesting question is, 
what does a computer 
have to know in order to 
create drawings that evoke 
the same responses from viewers that 
drawings by human artists evoke? 
What cues have to be in the picture? 
Omni: Why does this strike me as 
rather unethical? 

Simon: I don't know. You'll have to ex- 
plain it to me because it doesn't strike 
me as unethical. 

Omn'r. Vincent Van Gogh's great cre- 
ativity supposedly sprang from his tor- 
tured soul. A computer couldn't have a 
soul, could it? 

Simon: I question whether we need 
that hypothesis. I wouldn't claim 
AARON has created great art, That 
doesn't make AARON subhuman. One 
trap people fall into in this "creative gen- 
ius" game is to say, "Yes, but can you 
do Mozart?" That isn't the right test. 
There are degrees of creativity. If 
Mozari had never lived, we would re- 



tortured. I do know he had a father who 
taught him great technique. The tech- 
nique he used as a kid just knocks 
your eyes out; it helped make his Blue 
Period possible a few years later in 
Paris. I don't know what that last little 
bit of juice is — yet. I always suspect 
these "soul" theories because nobody 
will teil me what the soul is. And if they 
do, we'll program one. [laughs] 

Here's our friend van Gogh with his 
ear missing [opens another book], I 
don't know whether you need a soul to 
paint that. . . . The colors of these sun- 
flowers are intense, certainly. There's a 
forsythia hedge 1 pass every morning 
when I walk to my office. When it 
blooms in the spring, especially if 
there's a gray sky behind it, the flowers 
just knock me out, I don't think that 
hedge has a soul, It has intensity of 
color, and I'm responding to that. 
Omni: Van Gogh shot himself soon 
after he painted Wheat Field with 
Crows, so my emotional response to 
seeing it is inseparable from that 
knowledge. AARON's at a dis- 
advantage in that sense. 
Simon: Well, Cohen could in- 
vent a history for AARON. It 
could shoot its ear off. 
Omni: Can a machine auto- 
mate creativity then? 
Simon: I think AARON has. I 
think BACON has. 
Omni. Could a computer pro- 
gram have come up with your 
theory of bounded rationality? 
Simon: [testily] In principle, 
yes. If you ask me if I know 
how to write that program this 
month, the answer is no. 
Omni: You say people never have cor- 
rect intuitions in areas where they lack 
experience. What about child prodi- 
gies? How can a 12-year-old violin vir- 
tuoso pack so much practice into so 
few years? 

Simon: They do. But when a kid 12 
years old makes it on the concert cir- 
cuit, it's because he or she is a kid. 
Was Yehudi Menuhin ever really an 
adult artist? We have data on this; we 
don't have to speculate. Either out of 
conviction or a desire to earn money 
the teacher says, "Gee, your kid is 
doing well at the piano." The kid gets 
gratification from being complimented 
and from not having to do other things 
because they have to practice instead. 
Then the teacher says, "I've brought 
this kid along as far as I can, You'd bet- 
ter find a more experienced teacher." 
So they find the best teacher in town. 
Then they go national. It goes that way 
without exception. A study comparing 
top solo musicians with people good 
enough to teach or play in orchestras 



found an enormous difference in the 
numbers of hours each group puts in. 
Does that mean you can make people 
into geniuses by beating them into 
working 80 hours a week? No. But a 
large percentage of the difference be- 
tween human beings at these high lev- 
els is just differences in what they know 
and how they've practiced. 
Omni: So Albert Einstein "didn't invent 
the theory of relativity in a blaze of in- 
sight, but rather prepared himself by 
amassing experience and learning to 
recognize patterns"? 
Simon: Einstein was only 26 when he 
invented spatial relativity in 1905, but 
do you know how old he was when he 
wrote his first paper on the speed of 
light?— 15 or 16, That's the magic ten 
years. It turns out that the time separat- 
ing people's first in-depth exposure to 
a field and their first world-class 
achievement in that field is ten years, 
neither more nor less by much. Einstein 
knew a hell of a lot about light rays and 
all sorts of odd information related to 



WHEN YOU TALK TO 
THE PARANOID COMPUTER PROGRAM, PARRY, 

YOU'LL SOON NOTICE 
IT'S GETTING ANGRY AT YOU OR REFUSING 

TO TALK. PARRY IS 
HARD TO CALM DOWN ONCE IT'S UPSET. 



them by the time he turned 26. 
Omni: You talk about machines thinking 
and humans thinking as interchange- 
able, but could a machine simulate 
human emotion? 

Simon: Some of that's already been 
done. Psychiatrist Kenneth Colby built 
a model of a paranoid patient called 
PARRY. Attached to some of the things 
in its memory are symbols that arouse 
fear or anger, which is the way we think 
emotions are triggered in humans. You 
hear the word father, and that stirs up 
fear or whatever fathers are supposed 
to stir up, When you talk to PARRY, the 
first thing you know it's getting angry at 
you or refusing to talk. PARRY is very 
hard to calm down once it gets upset. 
Omni: Some say Al has had a disap- 
pointing record of progress. What 
about all the rosy predictions from Al 
researchers? . . . 

Simon: Starting with mine, in 1957, I 
predicted four things would happen 
within ten years. First, music of aes- 
thetic interest would be composed by 
a computer. Second, most psychologi- 



cal theories would take the form of 
computer programs. Third, a significant 
mathematical theorem would be 
proved by a computer. Fourth, a com- 
puter would be chess champion of the 
world. We could quibble about the 
word most in -the psychological-theory 
predictions— our GPS program is 
widely accepted as are a number of 
others — otherwise, all but my chess 
prediction actually took place in the fol- 
lowing ten years. 

Omni: Hmm. Isn't the music verdict 
pretty subjective? 

Simon: Not at all. Hiller and Isaacson at 
the University of Illinois used a com- 
puter to compose the ILIAC Suite and 
the Computer Cantata. Without identify- 
ing the music, I played records of 
these for several professional musi- 
cians, and they told me they found ft 
aesthetically interesting; — I didn't say it 
had to be great music — so that passed 
my test. So what's subjective? 
Omni: You don't back down at all on 
your predictions? 

Simon: No. And on my 
chess prediction, I was off 
by a factor of four. It'll take 
40 years, not 10, for a 
computer to be world 
champion. My alibi is that I 
thought the field was so 
exciting that there would 
be a huge increase in ef- 
fort on computer chess, 
and there wasn't. 
Omni: Do you ever admit 
you're wrong? 
Simon: Oh sure, I do it all 
the time. My wife couldn't 
live with me if I didn't. But on these 
things I wasn't wrong. 
Omni: Except the chess. 
Simon: Except the chess ... by a fac- 
tor of four.DQ 



CREDITS 

Page 2, lop: Chris Moore; page 2, left: 

Michael Pa'rkes; page 2, right: Marshall Ar-s- 
nan; page 4: Rosemary Webber; page 6: 
Shel Secunda; page 8; Kelvin Jones/Show- 
time; page 10: Francois Gohier/Photo Re- 
searchers, Inc.; pages 12 and 16: Dc^g 
-■srno/hnerspfiot: Vi-jici ;■: pap'? " : I : - 
Siracusa/FPG Int.; page 20: Jeremy Rendet 
page 22: Petrus Wandrey; page 24. tec and 
center: Wetlands Research, Inc.: page 24, 
bottom: Robert Ballou/Animals. Animals; 
pace 27: A":y VVarlnj/A'iciy -'■:- " : 
page 20, top: Robert Jordan/NCPA; page 28, 
bottom: Dean Berry/Liaison Intemarjanai; 
psge 29: Noli': •■: JsVo-: "". 
■.■vide; page 30: i-sns Re'--;:. :-.;:;"----- 
Researchers, Inc.; page 32, felt Photo Re- 
searchers, Inc.; page 32, right Kevin Wilson; 
page 38: Steve Stansdewicz Diagram; page 
77; Hencoup Enterprises/Science Ptioto Li- 
brary/Photo Researchers, Inc.; page 78, left: 
David Patryas; page 73, right: Poulides/ 
Thatcher/Tony Stone Worldwide; page 96: 
..ske R=js. : lnage Bank. 



BAfUlES 



THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS NUMBERS: 
Scot reveals the real secret of The Cuckoo's Ec 

By Scot Morris 



in his best-selling tale of 
computer espionage, The 
Cuckoo's Egg, Cliff Stoll 

tells how he tracked an inter- 
national spy through the 
maze of electronic networks. 

Late in the book, Stoll 
relates how the National Se- 
curity Agency invited 
him to address its top-secret 
Department X-1 . Before 
the talk, he spent a few min- 
utes writing puzzles on 
a chalk-board with Bob 
Morris, the head of the 
agency (chapter 48): 

Bob hit me with an easy 
number problem: OTTFFSS. 
"What's the next number, 
Cliff?" 

That was an oldie. One, 
two, three, four, five, six, 
seven. 'The next letter is E 
for eight, " I announced. 

Well, we fooled around 
with puzzles and palin- 
dromes for a while, until he 
wrote out this series of 
numbers: 1, 11,21, 1211, 
111221. 

"Complete that series, 
Cliff. " 

I looked at it far five 
minutes and gave up. I'm 
sure it's easy, but to this 
day, i still haven't solved it. 

Stoll tells me that he has 
received thousands of let- 
ters since the book came 
out, including perhaps 600 
mentioning this puzzle. "I 
haven't kept track, but 
probably most are wrong 
guesses," he says. 

Stoll has since learned 
the answer. The next term is 
312211. But why? And 
what's the next term? (An- 
swer below) 

OLD BUSINESS 
Above is the solution to 
the matchstick triangle prob- 
94 OMNI 






=1 



IZ^SEIBBO 



12 + 144+20+3v/4+5x11 



9+0 



lem presented in April's 
column. NobYoshigahara 
created this puzzle and 
the three fractions below it, 
another puzzle posed in 
April. I challenged readers 
to distribute the nine digits 
1 through 9 into the nine 
positions so that the equa- 
tion is correct. There's 
only one way to do it. The 
answer appears below. 

Last month, I asked read- 
ers to determine the logic 
of a list that began schwa, 
splat, three, grist, chore. . . . 
This isn't an alphabet list; it's 
a number list, originated 
by David Shukan, The third 
term, three, stands for "3" 
rather than "C." Convert 
every vowel (v) to the digit 
1 and every consonant 
(c) to 0, and the list be- 
comes the numbers 1 to 26 
written in binary notation: 
schwa - ccccv = 00001 = 1 , 
sp/ar=cccvc= 00010 
= 2, three = cccvv - 0001 1 
= 3, and soon down "to 
o//ear = wcvc = 11010 = 26. 



QUICKIES 

1 . What's special about 
the numbers shown above, 
third from top? 

2. John Kirkland sent the 
equation at the bottom of the 
box above. Can you read 

it as a limerick? 

3. David Fields asks you to 
imagine you're trapped 

on an island and there's- only 
one way to escape — but 
you can't see it. Monsters 
are closing in on you to 
eat you alive. What should 
you do? 

4. Nick Baxter asks how 
many times the phrase "The 
United States of America" 
appears on the front of a 
$100 bill. Most people see 
only one, but the correct 
answer is 11. Explain. 

ANSWERS 

Stoll number series: 1,11, 
21, 1211, 111221,312211 
The next term is 13112221. 
Each number is generated 

by an English description 
of the previous number. The 



sequence starts with 
"one one," so the second 
term is 1 1 . That can be 
described as "two ones," 
generating 21 . That's "one 
two, one one." Recursion 
does the rest. 

The strange sequence 
was described by John 
Horton Conway, the legend- 
ary Princeton mathema- 
tician, as an example of 
"audioactive decay"— 
progressions that depend 
on how numbers are 
pronounced. 

Another audioactive 
sequence counts the total 
numbers of each digit 
and describes them, starting 
with'the largest digit. The 
first four terms are the same 
as Conway's sequence: 1 , 
11, 21, 1211, but then it be- 
comes "one two, three 
ones," or 1231. What is re- 
markable about the 
thirteenth term in this se- 
quence, 14233221? 

Yoshigahara's fraction: 
The three fractions are 5/34, 
7/68, and 9/12. 

Quickies: 

1 . The number of angles 
(90° or less) in each digit 
equals the number itself. 

2. A dozen, a gross, and a 
score/Plus three times 

the square root of four/Plus 
five times eleven/Divided 
by seven/Is nine squared 
and not a bit more. 

3. Stop imagining. 

4. The phrase is repeated 
ten times in a tiny 

frame around the image c ; 
Benjamin Franklin. The 
minute text is designee Id 
deter counterfeiters. 

Finally, 14233221 de- 
scribes itself, and the 
sequence repeats endtesaiy 
from then on.OQ 



LAST WORD 



UFOslNNEWYORK: 

Roll out the red carpet and come on down! 

By Peter Callahan 



Forget the 

nasty little green 

men; these 

aliens are really 

Blip and they 

certainly know 

how to play 

the Bin Apple tor 

more than 

tea anri sympathy. 



It was a big story when the 
UFO landed in New York; 
some even called it the big- 
gest story of the twentieth centu- 
ry. Two aliens in a spaceship 
touched down in Times Square 
amidst the hustle and bustle of 
a Saturday night— and were 
promptly robbed and beaten by 
a group of thugs. "UFO a Flop on 
Broadway!" the New York Post's 
headline screamed. "Martians 
Mugged!" the Daily News blared. 

The story may have died 
there, a one-day sensation in the 
tabloids, if a videotape of the 
incident hadn't emerged the next 
day. Shot from the sixth-floor win- 
dow of an X-rated book deposi- 
tory, the tape set off a worldwide 
media frenzy. Even the New York 
Times discreetly reported the 
event on a back page of the 
Metro section, elevating the story 
above suspicion. 

The aliens, identified as Quisp 
and Quake, received an outpour- 
ing of sympathy and donations 
from thousands of people 
shocked by the incident. At City 
Hall, the mayor offered a public 
apology and keys to the city. 
After the ceremony, the aliens 
told a packed press conference, 
"We mean no harm to you or 
your planet. We just wanted to 
see New York." 

Quisp and Quake quickly be- 
came the toast of the town. The 
Plaza Hotel set them up in an 
elegant suite, while restaurants 
and nightclubs welcomed them 
with open arms. Their every ap- 
pearance, from a taping of Dona- 
hue to the opening of a trendy 
disco, attracted hoards of ador- 
ing fans eager to glimpse the 
city's newest celebrities. 

Quisp's rap version of the 
Byrds' Mr. Spaceman quickly 
topped the charts, and Cosmo- 
politan named Quake the Bach- 
elor of the Month. It was a heady 
time for both the aliens and the 




city. But then, unexpectedly, it 
was over. Quisp and Quake dis- 
appeared one night, apparently 
returning from whence they 
came, and everyone mourned 
the loss of the aliens, 

Until the scandal broke. 

It started small, as most scan- 
dals do, when a maid entered 
the aliens' suite at the Plaza and 
found it in shambles: cham- 
pagne bottles strewn every- 
where, cigarettes stubbed out on 
priceless antiques. It was time to 
call in the police-. 

"We started hearing things 
about these guys all over town," 
says Detective Clifton Leaf of the 
Police Department's Fraud In- 
vestigations Unit. "Unpaid res- 
taurant bills, totaled rental cars — 
and a tot of broken hearts. Turns 
out these guys liked to play the 
field, and at least a dozen 
women have already filed pater- 
nity suits, The whole thing makes 
me sick." 

The city rocked and reacted 
with each new revelation. A 



major publishing house, after 
signing a million-dollar book 
advance with the aliens for an 
exclusive story, received a "man- 
uscript" consisting entirely of 
newspaper clippings about the 
night of the incident in Times 
Square. A company the two 
founded, Spacial Relations, 
turned out to be nothing more 
than a glorified pyramid scheme. 
Investors lost millions. 

The Martians even found time 
for small-time scams, according 
to Detective Leaf. "They were 
cleaning up on three-card monte 
games outside their hotel. 
People were looking at their 
funny heads instead of watching 
what they did with the cards." 
And they hit the transit system. 
"Because of their physiology." 
explains Leaf, "they were whiz- 
zes at sucking subway tokens 
out of turnstiles. Hell, they could 
suck a token out of your pocket 
and you wouldn't feel a thing." 

The greatest shock came 
when experts determined that 
the video of the beating was a 
fake. According to Detective 
Leaf, Quisp and Quake siagea 
the whole thing. 

"We've arrested a group of 
unemployed actors who've 
admitted they were hired by 
these guys to play the mug^s 
In fact, if you enhance the :sse 
you can even see Quisp. when 
he's supposedly being tsa:e- 
laughing at one point I usi 
makes me sick," Leaf sighs. 

In the wake of what the peas 
now calls "Martiahgate ' ~=~.. 
people are wondering "~a :a~ 
little aliens could have conned so 
many sophisticated Ne* fortt- 
ers. "I guess in the end/ says 
Leaf, "they were just a ict smarter 
than us. The way I see it. they 
must have been casing ^s, in a 
long time, because they sure fig- 
ured out how things work down 
here." DO